October 26, 2023

Interpretive Summary: The American Farmers Feed the World Act of 2023 is introduced

The American Farmers Feed the World Act of 2023 is introduced 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The American Farmers Feed the World Act of 2023 was introduced to ensure that United States-grown commodities remain the cornerstone of international food aid. Currently, the United States Agency for International Development’s Food for Peace Program funds much of the nation's food aid. Under the terms of the bill, the program would be required to spend at least half its funds on purchasing and distributing American commodities. The bill was introduced by Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Roger Marshall (R-KS), and Pete Ricketts (R-NE). A companion bill was introduced into the House earlier this year. 

“American food aid should be produced in America,” said Representative Rick Crawford (R-AR), who was one of the Representatives who introduced the companion bill into the House. “It is disingenuous to continue to use funds to purchase foreign commodities and call it “American aid”. No one knows the business of feeding the world better than American farmers. I am pleased to join my colleagues, Reps. Mann, Garamendi, and Panetta, in prioritizing American farmers by sharing their abundant production to fight global hunger, and making needed, efficient changes to our international food aid programs.” 

The American Farmers Feed the World Act of 2023 would:  

  • Restore the emphasis on American food by reinstating the Food for Peace program’s original intent to use U.S.-grown commodities to fight global hunger, rather than using American taxpayers’ dollars to purchase food from America’s competitors
  • Restore transparency by reducing overhead costs, preserving resources to purchase life-saving food, and protecting at least 50% of the budget for purchasing U.S.-grown commodities and delivering them to the destination country
  • Restore accountability by requiring U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to report to Congress on all program implementation and budget details and requiring U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approval
  • Restore efficiency by creating a more effective release mechanism for the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust in favor of a streamlined USDA release protocol to feed people more quickly

“As a Montana wheat farmer, I am incredibly proud of the role my farm plays in supporting international food aid programs,” said United States Wheat Associates (USW) Board Member and Montana wheat farmer Denise Conover. “I am pleased to see Senator Tester leading this important bill to ensure that American farmers continue to play this vital role in the Food for Peace program, feeding more Montana wheat to more hungry people at no additional taxpayer cost.”

More than 50 agricultural groups signed on in support of The American Farmers Feed the World Act of 2023, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and the American Soybean Association. However, some of those in the agriculture industry do not support the bill. 

Vincent H. Smith, a nonresident senior fellow and the director of Agricultural Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and Professor Emeritus at Montana State University, and Stephanie Mercier, a former Chief Economist of the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and a principal at Agricultural Perspectives, an agricultural policy consulting firm, wrote in an opinion piece, “If the Act’s real objective is to discourage agricultural development assistance in order to squeeze out a negligible increase in the volume of United States commodities purchased for food aid, it will be a failure, having no impact on domestic crop prices received by United States grain and other farmers. The ultimate goal of non-emergency agricultural aid projects is to help small farmers in developing countries become more productive and thus more resilient in the face of external shocks such as bad weather or civil conflict.”