The fiscal year for the federal government is coming to an end on September 30, and half of the money designated for International Food Aid has not been spent.
At a House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on international food aid assistance programs Wednesday, Representative Betty McCollum (MN-4th District) asked a U.S. Agency for International Development official why the agency had unspent food aid funds that the White House proposed to hold back when there are hungry people in the world.
McCollum noted that USAID had unobligated balances of $2 billion when the budget for food aid is only $4.4 billion.
Trey Hicks, director of USAID’s Office of Food for Peace in the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, said USAID has to hold back some funds so that it has money to address weather events such as Hurricane Dorian. But McCollum, a longtime food aid advocate, said that she thought holding back nearly half the money was too much.
Hicks said that he had received the message “loud and clear” and that USAID “will follow the law.”
Both McCollum and House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Sanford Bishop (GA-2nd District) said they were disturbed by President Donald Trump’s budget proposals to eliminate some food aid programs.
“The administration’s proposed elimination of these programs is short-sighted and ignores their value as an essential tool for diplomacy. That’s why the House mark rejects their elimination and funds McGovern-Dole and Food for Peace at $2 billion per year, well above last year’s enacted level.”
Hicks said the Trump Administration proposed to use a new International Humanitarian Assistance account to provide food and non-food assistance.