MFAN Co-Chair Defends Foreign Aid Reform in Testimony

Today, MFAN co-chair and president of Bread for the World, David Beckmann, testified in an open witness hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations. In his testimony, Beckmann highlighted the reform efforts underway to make U.S. foreign assistance more effective, including opportunities for food aid reform. He also addressed the importance of funding for poverty-focused development assistance—and the negative impact cuts to such accounts would have—and U.S. leadership on global food security and nutrition.

See below for excerpts from Beckmann’s testimony:

“Madam Chairwoman, our poverty-focused development assistance in the State/Foreign Operations appropriations bill help build secure, healthy, and productive nations, and all for less than one percent of the federal budget.”

“I am a co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, a coalition of organizations and policy experts who are working together for improvements in coordination, accountability, and real partnership with the people we are trying to help. This committee helped President Bush improve U.S. foreign assistance through the launch of PEPFAR and the Millennium Challenge Account. And the Obama administration has moved the foreign aid reform agenda forward through initiatives such as his presidential policy directive on development and USAID Forward.”

“I want to commend USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah for his efforts to provide more assistance directly to governmental institutions and local NGOs and businesses in the recipient countries. I also want to commend Congressman Ted Poe for sponsoring the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act. Mrs. Lowey, Mr. Diaz-Balart, and Mr. Crenshaw cosponsored the bill. It passed the House unanimously, however was unable to clear the Senate. We hope to see it become law during this Congress.”

“There are important opportunities for efficiency in our food aid system. A recent independent evaluation commissioned by USDA found that local and regional procurement of food is cheaper, more timely, and helps to increase local agricultural capacity. A 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office found that the use of monetization for non-emergency food aid commodities resulted in a 30 percent loss of resources. We should not take away help from the hungry and poor people served by food aid, and NGOs run effective community development projects with monetized food aid. But I urge this committee to work with the administration and the agriculture subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee to eliminate the waste in our food aid program.”

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