Media CenterCRS Responds to Proposed Farm Bill Packages

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Robyn Fieser
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
+1 646 648 3916

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, May 17, 2024 – Bill O’Keefe, executive vice president for Mission, Mobilization and Advocacy at Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the international aid agency of the United States Catholic Church, issued the following statement on the proposed Farm Bill packages released by Chairs of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.

“CRS appreciates the support for international food assistance programs demonstrated in Chairperson Stabenow’s Farm Bill proposal released May 1. It continues the international food assistance programs that help save lives in emergencies, improve the livelihoods of small farmers so they can feed their families, support school children in their studies, and leverage the expertise of American volunteers to support food security and nutrition outcomes for our brothers and sisters overseas. The proposal continues to provide food from the US to address global hunger, while making overall positive changes to these international food assistance programs. Noteworthy are improvements for Resilience Food Security Activities in Food for Peace Title II and the McGovern Dole Food for Education programs, which will better support local farmers within the community or region. We are uneasy about some proposed changes, such as altering the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) waiver authority, but we recognize that compromises are necessary to reach consensus in the Farm Bill.

In contrast to the Senate proposal’s treatment of international food assistance, CRS is concerned about Chairperson Thompson’s Farm Bill proposal in the House. It risks undermining the program quality and reach of the Food for Peace Title II (FFP) program. We strongly oppose including parts of the American Farmers Feed the World Act (H.R. 4293) in the package, as it jeopardizes Resilience Food Security Activities. These unique, multi-year programs support communities in overcoming chronic poverty and reducing the need for future humanitarian assistance. 

We support providing US commodities in the international food assistance programs, but we cannot focus solely on food distribution. We must ensure the programs respond to market conditions on the ground and that the communities can recover and provide for themselves and their families. We acknowledge the Chairperson's statement in his open letter on May 10, 2024, expressing his intention not to cause harm with his proposed changes. We hope that our concerns regarding the proposed alterations to Food for Peace Title II will be carefully considered as the package continues to be debated moving forward. 

As the Farm Bill legislative process continues, CRS will work with all stakeholders toward bipartisan consensus for policy changes in international food assistance programs that make them 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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Robyn Fieser

Regional Marketing Manager - LACRO

Robyn Fieser
May 17, 2024

Based in Bogotá, Colombia

Robyn is the regional marketing manager for CRS in Latin America and the Caribbean. She raises awareness about CRS’ humanitarian and disaster relief programs, serving as a contact for key news outlets and coordinating coverage of emergency and development stories. From a base in Bogata, Colombia, she travels throughout the region to...More