The New York Times reports today that, “CARE, one of the world’s biggest charities, is walking away from some $45 million a year in federal financing, saying American food aid is not only plagued with inefficiencies, but also may hurt some of the very poor people it aims to help.” (CARE Turns Down Federal Funds for Food Aid)
If that sounds familiar, it may be because Grassroots has been making that point for years. Grassroots has never accepted government funding, partly to maintain our independence, but also because we have seen over the years that many “foreign aid” programs that purport to help our neighbors overseas are often thinly-veiled subsidy programs for powerful American interests. In the case of food aid, cheap food purchased from often-struggling U.S. farmers is dumped at below market costs in hunger-stricken countries, driving local farmers off the land and out of work. The only ones this program really aids are the giant agribusinesses that serve as middle men for the deals.
Real aid builds local communities up, it doesn’t weaken them. That’s why we’re so excited about food sovereignty, which focuses on the needs of the producers and consumers of food instead of the needs of the market, and brings hope that we can fix the broken food system.
It’s exciting to hear that the big, mainstream charities are starting to see what we’ve known for so long.