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U.S. ag groups seek more food aid funding

U.S. ag groups seek more food aid funding

   A group of 16 agricultural trade associations asked the House and Senate appropriation committees on Friday to include at least $500 million in emergency food aid spending in a supplemental bill working its way through Congress.

   In a letter to the committee leaders, the groups spelled out the need for a $580 million appropriation for the P.L. 480 Title II food aid program, a substantial increase over the Obama administration's $150 million request.

   Although $1.5 billion is available for emergency food aid, including $1.4 billion from Title II and $100 million from the International Disaster Assistance Account, the agricultural groups said the amount is insufficient in fighting global hunger.

   Based on the World Food Program's assessment of global emergency food aid requirements, at least $5.2 billion is needed in 2010 to cover the cost of commodities and related transportation, storage, handling, distribution, administration and monitoring. The United States traditionally provides at least 40 percent of the global emergency food aid, meaning $2.08 billion for 2010.

   'Without additional funding, the World Food Program and other humanitarian organizations will be forced to reduce lifesaving assistance to some of the world's most vulnerable populations who have been devastated by humanitarian emergencies,' the groups warned.

   Some countries under threat from WFP cuts include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Kenya, Chad and Ethiopia.

   In 2008, Title II emergency food aid programs distributed nearly 2 million metric tons of U.S. commodities.

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