America was once a great nation. Although we’d go stick our collective nose into places it didn’t belong, we did at one point send foreign aid to places in need. It’s what we did. We were supposed to be the good guy. Under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts, foreign aid, however, comes up short. The Associated Press reported:
‘In March, Trump proposed a budget that would cut 28 percent of funding for diplomacy and foreign aid, singling out the Food for Peace program that funds a majority of U.S. foreign food assistance.’
Don’t feel bad guys. He’s trying to cut Meals on Wheels here in America too. With that said, two senators are attempting a bipartisan effort at coming up with a solution to providing foreign aid in a more monetarily efficient manner. Both Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn) and Chris Coons (D-Del) traveled to war-torn Uganda and visited a refugee camp that has suffered under famine conditions. The AP reported the senators watched as food was distributed and arguments broke out among refugees. One refugee told them:
‘We don’t have enough food. Right now they are reducing (food).’
Sen. Corker and Coons have proposed that the answer to providing aid to countries such as South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen, is not necessarily fueling more money into the programs but to change the stringent regulations that surround providing aid to those countries.
Currently, regulations require food provided to countries to be grown in America and “shipped under an American flag.” The problem with that, according to Corker and Coons, is that it is more expensive and less efficient.
‘It’s taken in some cases six months for those products to actually get here. We have people coming over the border (from South Sudan). They need food. We can actually buy the food cheaper, use our taxpayer dollars cheaper.’
The two senators have attempted a solution by introducing legislation that would remove regulations on where food aid could be cultivated. The AP reported the breakdown and comparison in costs.
‘Roughly $1.2 billion of the U.S. food assistance still carries the restrictions of being grown in the U.S. and being shipped under a U.S. flag. The U.S. Agency for International Development has estimated that the Coons-Corker plan to lift those restrictions would reach 2 to 4 million more people with equivalent funding.’
Why are we not doing this already?!
Corker blames “a small group of people in Washington” as the cause for less people receiving aid. Where’s the controversy? If it’s cheaper and provides more aid, do it, right? US farmers and lawmakers with farming constituents are not fans of the lifting of such regulations. Shipping companies also aren’t huge fans of deregulating. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX) stated that “demands for even more flexibility are premature.”
What Coons and Corker are proposing is probably the closest solution that will end up in still providing much-needed aid to poverty and famine-stricken countries. However, the idea of farm states losing money is the turn off – even though it would cost taxpayers less nationally as a whole. With Trump’s proposed budget cuts, something is going to have to give though if we want to continue being the humanitarian country we’ve had a reputation for. Considering though that we’ve got proposed cuts that would directly effect aid to our own citizens, such as Meals on Wheels, the hopes of anyone realizing there are people outside of this country in need seems dismal.
Featured image by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.