Food for Development Program Constrained by Unresolved Management and Policy Questions

Gao ID: ID-81-32 June 23, 1981

The implementation of the 1977 Food for Development amendment to the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act was reviewed. This is the principal legislation under which the United States provides food aid to friendly countries. The review was conducted because of the emphasis in recent years on more closely relating U.S. food aid with recipient country self-help efforts and because of some congressional concerns that the food for development program had not been implemented more rapidly and on a larger scale.

There is a need to fix responsibility and authority for the design, review, approval, and evaluation of the multiyear development plans under the Act with one lead agency, preferably the Agency for International Development. This lead agency could draw upon the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other outside technical expertise in dealing with development planning and implementation. U.S. policymakers face the dilemma of persuading recipient governments to take difficult self-help measures in return for U.S. food aid, which they may perceive that they will get anyway. Agencies also face the problem of getting maximum impact of food aid on development under the Act with its stringent requirements in an environment of highly concessional alternative food aid. A policy framework for linking the concessionality of food assistance to self-help measures needs to be established. Such a policy, if it is to be meaningful, will require close cooperation among the concerned departments and agencies and will require appropriate consultation with congressional committees.


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