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Event Summary

At an AEI event on Wednesday, food-aid experts convened to discuss the future of US food-aid policy. Panelists broadly endorsed the Obama administration’s proposal to source food from local and regional markets when that is the fastest and most cost-efficient way to prevent hunger and malnutrition, and to continue to ship food from the United States when it is not.

USAID’s Nancy Lindborg detailed the structure of the proposal, indicating that the reforms would provide additional flexibility to meet specific nutrition needs much faster. Lindborg also noted that US-sourced food — to which 55 percent of funds would be dedicated— would continue to play a large role. Oxfam America’s Gawain Kripke endorsed the plan, suggesting that it allows USAID to respond in a faster and more targeted fashion while cutting down on program inefficiencies. 

David Beckmann of Bread for the World emphasized that the Obama administration’s plan would provide more aid to more people without adding to the US deficit. He highlighted the fact that while Americans are committed to helping the poor, they are increasingly intolerant of policies that use large portions of taxpayer funding to cover transportation costs.

Michael Carter of the University of California, Davis, concluded the discussion by examining aid delivery from an economics perspective. He indicated that local and regional aid procurement cut an average of 14 weeks off of aid delivery times, which is especially crucial in the context of delivering aid to newborns and young children, who are particularly vulnerable during food crises.
–Brad Wassink

Event Description

In its 2014 budget, the White House proposed an important change to US food aid policy: sourcing food from local and regional markets when that is the fastest and most cost-efficient way to prevent hunger and malnutrition, and continuing to ship food from the United States when it is not. The Obama administration has argued that this change would allow funds to be used in the most efficient way to feed to the world’s poorest families in times of crisis. 

While some legislators and interest groups have opposed the proposed changes, arguing for the delivery of US-grown food in all cases, free-market economists and many foreign aid organizations have argued in favor of the Obama administration’s policy. Please join us for a panel discussion to examine this interesting coalition and to discuss the benefits and costs of the administration’s proposal in relation to current policy.


11:45 AM
Registration and Lunch

12:00 PM
David Beckmann, Bread for the World and Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network
Michael Carter, University of California, Davis
Gawain Kripke, Oxfam America
Nancy Lindborg, United States Agency for International Development

Vincent H. Smith, AEI

1:00 PM
Question-And-Answer Session

1:30 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Brad Wassink at [email protected], 202.862.7197.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

David Beckmann has been president of Bread for the World since 1991. Beckmann is also president of the Bread for the World Institute, which provides policy analysis on hunger and strategies to end it. He founded and serves as president of the Alliance to End Hunger, which engages diverse US institutions — Muslim and Jewish groups, corporations, unions, and universities — in building the political will to end hunger. Currently, Beckmann is cochair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. He has served as a board member of InterAction, the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa, the ONE Campaign, the National Anti-Hunger Organizations, and the UN Millennium Hunger Task Force. Before joining Bread, Beckmann worked at the World Bank for 15 years, overseeing large development projects and driving innovations to make the bank more effective at reducing poverty.

Michael Carter is professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis, where his research focuses on development economics, poverty dynamics, rural credit and insurance markets, agricultural development and income distribution, and land tenure and land reform. Carter also serves as director of the BASIS Assets and Market Access Innovation Lab, a United States Agency for International Development-funded research consortium. Carter has previously served as a visiting professor at the University of KwaZulu-Nata (South Africa) and CIEPLAN (Chile), and as professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Carter has also served as fellow for the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development and the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

Gawain Kripke is the director of policy and research at Oxfam America. His department conducts research and policy advocacy focusing on the effectiveness of foreign aid and development, climate change, trade and agriculture, humanitarian issues, and extractive industries. Kripke is a frequent commentator on foreign aid, human rights, humanitarian issues, and agricultural policies in major news media, including The New York Times, CNN, NPR, BBC World News, and Marketplace. He has also testified before congressional committees. At Oxfam, Kripke previously served as senior policy adviser on Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign, which aims to reform unfair trade rules so that international trade can become a powerful force for reducing global poverty. Before joining Oxfam, he served as director of economic programs for the environmental organization Friends of the Earth. Kripke has authored numerous opinion pieces and briefing papers on trade and development issues.

Nancy Lindborg is the assistant administrator for the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA). Lindborg leads the efforts of more than 500 team members in 9 offices focused on crisis prevention, response, recovery, and transition. Since being sworn into office in October 2010, Lindborg has led DCHA teams in response to the Arab Spring uprising and numerous other global crises. Before joining USAID, she was president of Mercy Corps, where she served for 14 years. Lindborg has held a number of leadership and board positions including as co-president of the board of directors for the US Global Leadership Coalition, founder and board member of the National Committee on North Korea, and chair of the Sphere Management Committee. She is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Vincent H. Smith is professor of economics in the department of agricultural economics and economics at Montana State University (MSU) and codirector of MSU’s Agricultural Marketing Policy Center. Smith’s current research program examines agricultural trade and domestic policy issues, with a particular focus on agricultural insurance, agricultural science policy, domestic and world commodity markets, risk management, and agricultural trade policy. He has authored nine books and monographs and published over 100 articles on agricultural and other policy and economic issues. His work has been recognized nationally through multiple national awards for outstanding research programs. In 2008, he became a distinguished scholar of the Western Agricultural Economics Association. Currently, he is a visiting scholar at AEI and codirector of AEI’s agricultural policy initiative.

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