AJWS Statement on the Passage of the Coons-Johanns Food Aid Amendment

Washington,DC; June 3, 2013—

American Jewish World Service released the following statement today after the Senate passed the Coons-Johanns Amendment to the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013.

“Today’s Senate passage of the Coons-Johanns Amendment is a victory for small farmers worldwide,” said Timi Gerson, director of advocacy for American Jewish World Service. “The $100 million in the amendment will help provide aid quickly and efficiently and support local farmers in low-income countries, while feeding the hungry. This is a small but important step that shows Congress recognizes the important role that flexible tools like local purchase should have in a modernized food aid program.”

“We thank authors Senators Coons and Johanns and co-sponsors Senators Isakson, Leahy and Durbin for introducing this amendment. These dollars will make a difference in stretching food aid dollars further to reach hungry people now while, contributing to long-term food security by supporting local farmers and agriculture economies. This is one piece of a much larger debate and we look forward to working with Congress on further efforts to modernize food aid as the legislative process moves forward.”

The 2008 Farm Bill authorized $60 million for a four-year local and regional procurement (LRP) pilot program to test projects that could expedite the provision of food aid to vulnerable populations affected by acute and chronic hunger, with the provision of food sourced in the communities and regions closest to the populations of need. Program evaluations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as well as independent academic researchers at Cornell University found that local purchase aid was delivered up to 14 weeks faster and cost as much as 50 percent less for commodities such as grains when compared to food shipped from the U.S. The proposed 2013 Senate Farm Bill makes this program permanent.

The Coons-Johanns amendment in the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013(S. 954) increases the five-year authorization for the LRP from $40 million per year to $60 million per year.

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