Food Aid

As an industry, soy is looking to grow the economies of countries that are less developed to provide greater trade opportunities in the future.

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Expanding Horizons

Emerging markets in South Asia and Latin America represent growing markets for soybeans, but the greatest need and biggest potential return on investment in agricultural development assistance lies in sub-Saharan Africa.

ASA has been working for the last 20 years through its World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH)  to increase agricultural development in developing and emerging markets and the U.S. Soybean Export council in mature markets.

Photo Courtesy of USB

Unprecedented Growth

Economic growth of one percent in agriculture generates a six percent increase in overall growth in the poorest countries.

The global middle class is projected to reach 4.9 billion by 2030, meaning greater demand for animal products, processed foods, and higher-value commodities.

One of our chief competitors, Argentina, is benefiting from growing relationships in Africa, where Argentine investment has led to an increase in soy consumption, and the country has become a major supplier.

We believe that the training, knowledge and technology sharing, and related long-term potential for market growth of agricultural development programs will sustain the U.S. soybean industry as a leader in the global farm economy.

Issues Background

ASA recognizes that the vast majority of the world’s population, and its highest growth rates, are in  developing countries. Many of those people suffer from hunger and malnutrition, as well as poverty and low levels of economic development. Food aid plays a critical role in mitigating these conditions; in fact, many of our best export markets were at one time food aid recipients. The ASA and the product we represent, soy, can play a role in strengthening food aid, fortifying diets, and achieving the complementary goals of economic development and market growth.

ASA strongly believes that in-kind food aid remains the most sustainable tool in the food aid toolbox. In-kind food aid is strongly supported by both the American people and Members of Congress and is critical to global food security efforts.

ASA opposes proposals that would replace in-kind food aid with cash aid for the following reasons:

  • First, the American aid program is the gold standard in international aid. Ours is the largest and most diverse, reliable, and effective food security program in the world, with a strong track record of reducing malnutrition and increasing incomes and food supplies for very poor and vulnerable populations.
  • Second, any proposal of cash aid would mean the diverting of U.S. taxpayer dollars to foreign competitors. Because many of the communities that receive food assistance are food insecure, cash or vouchers are likely to lead to purchases of locally-imported foods, not locally-produced foods. There is no guarantee that cash or vouchers would be used to buy locally-grown food because many areas serviced by USAID do not have the capacity to produce food for all their citizens. American farmers, on the other hand, provide a steady pipeline of reliable, safe, and top-quality commodities.
  • Third, by enabling aid recipients to buy foreign food with American taxpayer dollars, the President’s proposal could place those recipients at risk of receiving food the safety and quality of which the U.S. cannot confirm or control. Additionally, the concept of placing the American flag on packages of foreign food raises serious credibility issues, and may deceive recipients into believing they are receiving American-grown food.
  • Fourth, a cash or voucher system is more expensive than purchases under the current framework by nearly $1000 per metric ton, according to USAID’s own data.
  • Fifth and finally, there is no evidence that cash transfers or locally-procured food would lead to faster delivery of food, and USAID has provided no evidence to support its claim that the food aid proposal would reach more people.

ASA supports improving nutrition in populations suffering from hunger, malnutrition, and poverty, and is committed to working through the WISHH program to fortify protein-deficient diets and achieve complementary goals of economic development. ASA supports additional investment by the U.S. government in the procurement of Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTFs). RUTFs, an energy-dense medical food paste made of soy, peanuts, powdered milk, vegetable oil, sugar and multivitamins, is one of the most effective tools to help severely malnourished children. The U.S. is one of the world’s largest and most cost-efficient producers of RUTFs, but American farmers have the capacity to produce more. ASA has urged Congress to provide $200 million in appropriations to procure RUTFs and double the global supply to reach more food insecure children across the globe. ASA’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health program works with companies like the Rhode Island-based Edesia Nutrition, one of many enterprises that relies on U.S. soy to provide affordable, high-quality protein in its products designed to combat malnutrition, like RUTFs. U.S. soy growers welcome the opportunity to expand the industry’s contribution to global food security.

ASA supports efforts to increase the effectiveness and speed of delivery of US food aid, including exploration of alternative procurement and delivery methods such as pre-positioning and procurement in advance of specific call-forwards. Local and regional purchases can be a useful tool for addressing global food insecurity, but they should work in coordination with current food aid programs. In-kind donations should remain intact, and funding for local purchases should come from the appropriate foreign assistance budget.

U.S. food aid programs have been perennially underfunded. ASA supports supplemental appropriations that compensate for shortfalls in food aid budgets, provide food for additional emergency needs, restore development assistance programs that were cut to divert food to emergencies, and replenish the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust, which is a backup reserve to provide food for emergency needs.

Additional Resources

U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC)

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World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH)

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