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WASHINGTON, DC?International agency Oxfam America welcomed President Bush's move today to provide an additional $770 million in emergency aid to help the poorest people around the world struggling to cope with dramatic food prices increases.
"President Bush's call on Congress to provide nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in additional food aid, on top of $240 million he committed recently, is an extremely important move to avert a potential humanitarian disaster,? said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. "We especially applaud the President's call for reform of the food aid system to allow for more flexibility and resources when addressing food crises. If aid agencies are allowed to purchase food regionally rather than having it shipped in from halfway around the world, more food can get to more people faster, while encouraging local food production to avert future disasters.?
While America provides half of the world's food aid, this generosity is undermined by legal restrictions and bureaucracy, as food aid must be purchased in the US and transported on US-flagged ships, according to Oxfam. As a result, food aid takes months to deliver and costs twice as much. But Congress has so far refused to seriously consider much needed reforms of our food aid policies as part of the on going consideration of the new Farm Bill.
?Given the current crisis, Congress should support President Bush's proposal to fund additional food aid and to shift some food aid resources into cash for local purchase, making food aid delivery faster and more efficient and more flexible,? said Offenheiser.
"We also applaud the President's call for the successful completion of the Doha Round of international trade negotiations and the end of trade distorting subsidies as a means of achieving this goal,? said Offenheiser. ?In this regard, more reform of US farm subsidy programs is required and should be achieved before a final farm bill is sent to the President. The current bill being debated by farm bill conferees falls far short of what is needed to provide real reform.?