Moran protests cuts to global food aid that undermine American strategic interests

Cuts to global food aid outlined in the Trump administration’s budget blueprint would undermine stability in regions of the world where America has strategic interests, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) said.

The administration’s proposed budget blueprint outlined cutting the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by $10 billion in an effort to meet the goal of “keeping more of America’s hard-earned tax dollars here at home,” Moran said in an op-ed that appeared on

President Ronald Reagan, Moran noted, recognized the power of food in shaping foreign policy and criticized the Soviet Union for failing to provide humanitarian relief in 1983, challenging the Kremlin to explain why the Soviet Union provided weapons but not food aid to the underdeveloped world.

“While the threats of today are different than those faced during the Cold War, American food aid continues to serve our national interests by promoting political, economic and social stability on a global scale, in addition to elevating our country’s moral standing and leadership,” Moran wrote.

“For decades, we have witnessed food-related hardships act as a catalyst for protests and armed conflicts that harm America’s strategic interests abroad,” Moran said. “From 2007 to 2011, spikes in global food prices led to increased food insecurity and unrest in the world. In the Middle East and North Africa, food-related protests were one of the major drivers of the mass uprising of the Arab Spring. The widespread turmoil in these oil-producing regions caused major volatility in energy prices. And even as food prices have leveled out since 2011, we continue to deal with the reverberations of the Arab Spring,” he added.

In Syria, meanwhile, the Islamic State uses the promise of food and basic necessities to recruit soldiers, and food shortages have forced refugees to return to war-torn areas.

“The National Intelligence Council warns that a continuation of the fundamental contributors to food insecurity — such as expanding populations, the slowing of agricultural yields and gaps in infrastructure and distribution systems — without greater assistance by the United States will result in increased food insecurity and instability in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia,” Moran wrote. “Congress has a critical role to play here in delivering that assistance.”

Moran, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, noted that he fought for a $134 million increase in Food for Peace Title II funding, a USAID initiative that donates in-kind American agricultural commodities to countries with critical food needs.

The subcommittee also increased funding for a program that promotes education for children by providing meals at schools located in areas most critically in need. “This administration’s budget proposal, which eliminates funding for the McGovern-Dole Food for Education and makes cuts to USAID, will harm our long-term national security interests and reduce our leadership in the world.”

Moran urged his congressional colleagues to consider the implications of global hunger and urged them to support policies that help solve the problem.