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US and Canadian responses to global food crisis

In response to the global food crisis, a press release on 1 May 20081 detailed a call by President Bush to the US Congress to provide an additional $770million to support food aid and development programmes. This is in addition to $200 million in emergency food aid recently made available via the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust (at the Agriculture Department). This extra funding would go towards existing emergency food aid programmes and agricultural development programmes in developing countries.

Acknowledging that the US must change the way food assistance is delivered, there was also a call to approve a proposal submitted to Congress in 2008, to purchase up to 25 percent of food assistance directly from farmers in the developing world. The need for the US administration to work with others was also highlighted, including securing food aid commitment from other G-8 countries and working towards the conclusion of a successful Doha Round agreement, to reduce and eliminate tariffs, other barriers, and market-distorting subsidies for agricultural goods. The US president also urged that countries lift restrictions on agricultural exports and remove barriers to advanced crops develop through biotechnology.

Canada is the latest major donor country to 'untie' its food aid, by removing restrictions on where the food can be purchased2. It will no longer insist on sending domestically grown food but will instead provide aid agencies with cash, giving them the flexibility to source cheaper food in the region or beneficiary country.

This leaves the United States of America, the world largest donor of food, as the only developed country with tied food aid. Canada also announced a donation of US$230 million to food aid programmes, joining the United Kingdom, the European Union and Japan, who have also pledged significant amounts to deal with the current crisis.

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US and Canadian responses to global food crisis. Field Exchange 33, June 2008. p18. www.ennonline.net/fex/33/crisis

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