Opening Statement: Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman David Rouzer: U.S. International Food Aid Programs: Oversight and Accountability

Jul 9, 2015

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you for joining us this morning as the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture continues to build off the work begun here just two weeks ago at the Full Committee level.  At that time, we heard from both USDA and USAID officials who are charged with implementing U.S. international food aid programs about some of the things that are working and others that could be improved.

One of the programs most lauded by USAID—the Emergency Food Security Program—allows for local and regional purchases of food abroad, as well as, cash transfers and food vouchers to aid those most in need.  In fact, we have been made keenly aware of efforts to transform Title II of the Food For Peace Act into a virtually identical cash-based assistance program.  But, as Chairman Conaway pointed out, reforms made in the 2014 farm bill have already resulted in unprecedented flexibility with Title II spending.  So, rather than rushing ahead with efforts to convert a time-tested food aid program into cash-based assistance, it is imperative that we monitor effects of the programs and flexibilities already in place.  It is my hope that today’s hearing will make strides in doing just that.

According to the Government Accountability Office, in fiscal year 2014, the United States funded cash and voucher projects spanning across 28 countries and totaling about $410 million through the Emergency Food Security Program.  Given USAID’s use of 202(e) funding to engage in similar projects, and the push for even more Title II flexibility, I find GAO’s recent report on cash-based assistance especially timely and look forward to discussing it in greater detail today.  I also look forward to learning more about the USDA and USAID OIGs’ body of work regarding the agencies’ implementation of various programs and projects.

The Economic Research Service just announced that the global percentage of food-insecure people will drop to 13.4 percent this year, compared to 14.8 percent last year. Unfortunately, that progress may be short-lived, as the percentage of food-insecure people is expected to increase to 15.1 percent by 2025.  These figures underscore the continued importance of international food aid programs, and I am proud of the United States’ long-established tradition as the leader of global efforts to alleviate hunger and malnutrition abroad.

I am especially proud of the role that the agricultural community has played in that process over the past 60 years. In order to continue this custom, additional food aid reforms must be debated in an open and transparent manner and in the context of developing the next farm bill.  I also believe that agriculture must be an integral part of any discussions about whole-of-government approaches to global food security.

As we move forward, it is important that we work to maximize cooperation and program efficiency to reach an even greater number of people in need.  But in doing so, we must not lose sight of the importance of maintaining broad domestic support for these vital programs.

Again, thank you all for being here today, and I look forward to continuing to work with you throughout this review process.

I now yield to Ranking Member Costa for any remarks he would like to make.