CARE Cuts the Strings on Food Aid

When it comes to food aid for other countries, the U.S. government doesn’t always give freely. It often imposes strings on the deal. As reported in May in Britian’s Observer, the United States doesn’t give food aid to countries in the form of money. Instead, it forces them to take heavily subsidized American agricultural products (usually corn and soybeans) that flood the market in the country they’re given to and depress the prices for locally grown commodities. According to U.S. law, 75 percent of the aid must be packed and shipped using American shippers. In other words, food aid most likely helps U.S. agricultural and shipping interests more than the countries it’s being sent to.

But one of the world’s biggest charities, CARE, is opting out of the cycle by rejecting $45 million per year in U.S. government finances. According to the New York Times article “CARE Turns Down Federal Funds for Food Aid,” the U.S. government buys grain in the States and ships it overseas, where it is sold on the market. The proceeds go to financing aid groups. Walking away from federal funding will allow CARE to support local farmers and businesses.

Both conservative and progessive observers applaud CARE’s decision.