Written by Oxfam
For many people, buying local makes sense. Whether the goal is reducing your carbon footprint, eating fresher food, or simply supporting the local economy, buying local can be a powerfully cost-efficient way to make an impact. Congress should apply the same logic to saving lives by buying international food aid locally.
Recklessly, current law doesn’t provide the option. Nearly all food aid, used in times of emergency to save lives around the world, must first be purchased from large agribusinesses. Then, it must be shipped overseas on preferred vessels often arriving weeks or months after it is needed. When the food eventually arrives, up to 32% of taxpayer’s initial investment is already lost due to markups and unnecessary overhead costs.
Unnecessary because unlike the US, other food aid donor countries don’t have American red tape and regulations so they are able to get the best possible return on their investments. If a disaster strikes in the north of country where food is available in the south, it’s purchased there. If that’s not an option, another close source is found. The food gets there faster, it costs less, more lives are saved, and an investment has been made in local agriculture that’s proven to reduce the risk of future famine in the region. Buying local makes sense.
Congress has an opportunity to expand the local and regional purchasing of food aid this spring. The US Senate has already taken the first steps to make this possible in the draft 2012 Farm Bill. Click here to learn more and add your voice to the thousands asking Congress to buy local.
Fixing food aid is just one part of Oxfam America’s GROW campaign to build a better food system. Nearly one billion, or one in seven, people are hungry because of unjust distribution of land, water, and trading opportunities. The situation will worsen as population grows to nine billion by 2050. We urgently need a food system that sustainably feeds a growing population and empowers poor people to earn a living, feed their families, and thrive.
You can make a difference with Oxfam America. As a leading international poverty relief and development organization working in over 90 countries, our mission is to create lasting solutions to poverty and injustice. There are opportunities to get involved on our website or on the ground doing grassroots advocacy with Oxfam Action Corps Chicago.
Working with partner organizations and individuals like you around the world, we will GROW a fair food system for today and tomorrow.