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US food aid: Charity begins at home

Men unload sacks of rice to store in the World Food Program warehouse in Gao, Mali. The rice is used to respond to emergency food and nutritional needs in conflict-affected areas, such as Gao in northern Mali, which fell under occupation of armed groups i
Some gifts have an unwelcome cost (Tanya Bindra/IRIN)

More than 60 years after the US Food for Peace program was launched, vested interests continue to hinder reforms to allow for more local sourcing of food aid.

The owners of US ships responsible for delivering food aid are now in line to receive millions of dollars in new subsidies as a result of proposed reform, news reports say. Under current law, almost all American food aid – worth around $1.8 billion in 2014 – must be purchased in the United States, and at least half of it must be transported on US-flagged vessels, a combination that costs 25-50 percent more than on the open market.  

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