The harm inflicted by food aid

Joia Mukherjee and Donna Barry

The Boston Globe

The U.S. is once again promising new shipments of food aid to Third World nations struggling with soaring food prices.

That may sound like goodwill, said Joia Mukherjee and Donna Barry, but it’s just a continuation of the same practice that helped create the global food crisis. Haiti is a perfect example of the tragic consequences of “grain dumping.” The Haitians cannot produce enough rice for their citizens because in the 1980s and 1990s, they succumbed to international pressure and lifted trade tariffs, “leaving local producers unable to compete with heavily subsidized U.S. agribusiness.”

The U.S. then began sending Haiti tons of rice as “food aid.” Such assistance has proved very profitable for American rice producers, but it has been “disastrous for Haiti’s small farmers.” Prices for locally grown rice dropped, and farmers simply stopped producing this critical food staple. Similar scenarios have played out across the globe.

If the world really wants to help poor countries achieve “lasting food security,” it should assist local growers, instead of wiping them out.