Media CenterCRS Opposes Changes to Food for Peace Programs Included in Farm Bill Passed by House Agriculture Committee

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Brittany Wichtendahl
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
+1 757 748 5003

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, May 24, 2024 – Bill O’Keefe, executive vice president at Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the international aid agency of the United States Catholic Church, issued the following statement on the House Farm Bill voted out of committee by the House Agriculture Committee:

“Yesterday, the House Agriculture Committee passed the 2024 Farm Bill out of Committee. CRS recognizes the hard work and many hours that went into preparing the Farm Bill and the vital role that this piece of legislation plays in supporting international food assistance programs.

That said, our concerns remain the same as prior to the markup. Specifically, the bill requires that at least half of the Food for Peace budget be spent on purchasing U.S. commodities and ocean freight; it creates new earmarks to procure ready-to-use-therapeutic food out of scarce humanitarian funding; and it shifts decision-making authority away from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). We acknowledge that Chairman Thompson expressed his interest prior to the markup to ‘do no harm’ in his Farm Bill, but good intentions did not make good enough legislation.

As written, Chairman Thompson’s Farm Bill endangers the Resilience Food Security Activities in the Food for Peace program. We continue to support providing U.S. commodities in the international food assistance programs but focusing exclusively on food distribution undermines how these multi-year programs fight hunger in communities globally. We remain concerned that the bill, as presently written, risks reaching 2.3 million fewer people than those currently participating in Food for Peace programs.

Despite the disappointing outcome of the markup, CRS applauds the remarks of Members of the Committee in support of Food for Peace. Members have many priorities in this critical piece of legislation, and we appreciate those who used their speaking time to champion and protect the Food for Peace program’s essential work combating global hunger and malnutrition.

As Pope Francis reminded the Food and Agriculture Organization in 2013, ‘A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.’

We need the Farm Bill to respond to market conditions and assist the most vulnerable farmers to participate in functioning local markets and continue on the journey to self-reliance.

With the Farm Bill potentially heading to the floor of the House of Representatives and continuing to work its way through the Senate, CRS stands ready to work with all stakeholders toward bipartisan consensus that makes international food assistance programs more effective, efficient and able to reach more people.”

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Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit www.crs.org or www.crsespanol.org and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Public Relations Strategist

Brittany Wichtendahl
May 24, 2024

Brittany Wichtendahl is a public relations strategist for Catholic Relief Services, out of Baltimore. Drafting press releases for secular and Catholic news media, Brittany also crafts pitches to help publicize CRS's work. She writes op-eds for placement in national print publications, and monitors news outlets for stories related to CRS and CRS programming.

Brittany is a graduate...More