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U.S. NGOs support bipartisan food assistance reform amendment to House farm bill

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Washington, DC (June 18, 2013) — NGO alliance InterAction welcomes the recent introduction of Amendment No. 55 (PDF) to H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM Act), offered by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY). This bipartisan amendment makes common-sense reforms that provide much needed flexibility to the Food for Peace program, which has helped feed more than 3 billion people in more than 150 countries over the last 60 years. This added flexibility will help the United States save millions more lives without spending any additional U.S. taxpayer dollars.

“This amendment is a big step in the right direction in terms of modernizing our life-saving U.S. food assistance programs,” said Samuel A. Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction. “We look forward to continuing to work with Congress and the Administration to ensure that we reach more people in need. With 870 million people facing chronic hunger worldwide, it is more important than ever to make the most of our limited resources.”

The Royce-Engel amendment to H.R. 1947, the House version of the farm bill, is expected to be voted on this week. InterAction has sent members of Congress a letter — signed by 30 U.S. NGOs — asking for members to vote “yes” on the amendment that will save lives and money.

Robert Zachritz, World Vision's senior director for Advocacy and Government relations, said that World Vision ""greatly appreciates the leadership of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn) on the House Farm Bill. The base bill reauthorizes the very successful 60-year old international food aid programs. Also, World Vision strongly supports the provision in the House Farm bill which protects the long-term developmental food aid programs and hopes the Senate will accept the House position on this critical provision.

"World Vision is also pleased to support the Royce/Engel Amendment as a majority step forward in creating increased flexibility and efficiencies in the U.S. international food aid program. This amendment reaches broad consensus in the humanitarian community because it focuses on a key part of this debate: flexibility in using all the food aid 'tools.' As an active member of this coalition, World Vision is pleased to see this bipartisan group come to consensus, and it couldn't have come at a better time as Congress prepares to debate the issue in the next few days. We are optimistic the Royce/Engel Amendment is a good step forward for food aid reforms and will help us provide food aid in the best ways available to those who need it the most."

InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations, and other NGOs have agreed on a set of principles (PDF) to help guide efforts to reform food assistance programs. These include ensuring that any reforms protect the core focus and effective elements of existing food assistance programs, increasing the number of people helped, improving the flexibility of programs, and ensuring any reforms are made in an open, transparent and inclusive process.

This amendment could be voted on as early as Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

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About InterAction:
InterAction is the largest alliance of U.S.-based nongovernmental international organizations, with more than 180 members. Our members operate in every developing country, working with local communities to overcome poverty and suffering by helping to improve their quality of life. Visit www.interaction.org.

About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. For more information on their efforts, visit WorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews.