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NAMA tells Congress: Food, not cash, is the most dependable form of food aid

May 10, 2007

Washington, D.C. – May 10, 2007 – The North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) called on Congress today to continue US produced food commodity donation programs in the 2007 Farm Bill without any changes to the structure of the programs. NAMA emphasized that food, not cash, is the most dependable form of food aid. John Gillcrist testified on behalf of NAMA and the Agricultural Food Aid Coalition in a hearing before the US House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, Subcommittee on Specialty Crops, Rural Development, and Foreign Agriculture Programs. The committee heard testimony from various groups about food aid and trade as they relate to the 2007 Farm Bill.

Gillcrist is chairman of Bartlett Milling Company, a member of NAMA’s Board of Directors, and NAMA’s former Chairman (2004-2006). Gillcrist said, “I have seen these programs in action and they are remarkable. Our food, clearly labeled “Gift of the People of the United States,” is a source of pride for Americans and is the most visible manifestation of the good will of the United States in the developing world.”

The US provides more than 50% of the world’s food aid to disaster victims, refugees, people living with HIV and AIDS, mothers, children and communities in need. Yet there is still a global shortfall of aid for the 850 million people who do not have enough food to lead healthy, productive lives. Food donations from the European Union have dropped significantly since the European Union converted their food donations to cash.

NAMA and members of the Agricultural Food Aid Coalition oppose the Administration’s proposal to authorize the use of cash for regional and local purchases of food aid commodities. Purchasing food locally and regionally has the potential to be both more market distorting and less rigorously regulated than food shipped from the US. US grown, processed, fortified and inspected agricultural products are safe, uniform, and nutrient rich.

“We must be certain that large purchases of scarce foods don’t actually harm the people we are intending to help,” continued Gillcrist. “We believe that in-kind food aid is the most dependable form of food aid and the least susceptible to fraud or misuse.”

NAMA is the trade association representing 48 companies that operate 170 wheat, oat and corn mills in 38 states and Canada. Their collective production capacity exceeds 160 million pounds of product each day, more than 95 percent of the total industry production.

The Agricultural Food Aid Coalition is a group representing American farmers and food processors.

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Testimony of John Gillcrist

Food Aid Principles for the 2007 Farm Bill

Members of the Agricultural Food Aid Coalition

CONTACT: Jane DeMarchi, Director Government Relations
202.484.2200, ext. 15
jdemarchi@namamillers.org

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