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American Soybean Association (ASA) reports:

ASA is calling on all farmers to urge their senators and representative to oppose a plan advanced by President Barack Obama as part of his proposed budget released last month that would restructure the U.S. food aid system by replacing approximately half of in-kind American foreign aid with cash.

ASA and many other farm groups, logistics and shipping providers, aid groups and labor groups are strongly opposed to the president's proposal and any other proposal that would damage the ability of our nation's farmers to provide our global neighbors with safe and healthy food we produce.

The American food aid program has served effectively for nearly 60 years, and any restructuring that involves the replacement of food aid with cash severely diminishes the efficacy of the program. There are multiple reasons why a restructuring like President Obama has suggested is so damaging, and why our foreign aid framework has been such a success throughout its history.

First, the American aid program is the gold standard in international aid. Ours is the largest and most diverse, reliable, and effective food security program in the world, with a strong track record of reducing malnutrition and increasing incomes and food supplies for very poor and vulnerable populations.

Second, the President's proposal of cash aid would mean the diverting of U.S. taxpayer dollars to foreign competitors. Because many of the communities that receive food assistance are food insecure, cash or vouchers are likely to lead to purchases of locally imported foods, not locally-produced foods. There no guarantee that cash or vouchers would be used to buy locally grown food because many areas serviced by USAID do not have the capacity to produce food for all their citizens. American farmers, on the other hand provide a steady pipeline of reliable, safe, and top quality commodities.

Third, by enabling aid recipients to buy foreign food with American taxpayer dollars, the President's proposal could place those recipients at risk of receiving food the safety and quality of which the U.S. cannot confirm or control. Additionally, the concept of placing the American flag on packages of foreign food raises serious credibility issues, and may deceive recipients into believing they are receiving American-grown food.

Fourth, a cash or voucher system is more expensive than purchases under the current framework by nearly $1,000 per metric ton, according to USAID's own data.

Fifth and finally, there is no evidence that cash transfers or locally procured food would lead to faster delivery of food, and USAID has provided no evidence to support its claim that the food aid proposal would reach more people.

Please click here to visit the Soy Action Center and send an email to your Representative and Senators, urging them to oppose the President's food aid proposal and any proposal that involves the replacement of food aid with cash.

This is critical for the sustained success and integrity of the program, and is necessary to ensure that we can continue to feed our neighbors in need around the world with quality food produced by American farmers.

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