Dr. Erin Lentz: New Policy Report on International Food Policy and the Next Farm Bill

Food aid and international food assistance from the United States is crucial to addressing the humanitarian crises gripping the globe today. The country’s role offers a highly visible symbol of Americans’ commitment to feed the world’s hungry.

The Farm Bill shapes the design of the nation’s food aid program and, therefore, directly impacts the lives of millions of people around the world. The upcoming 2018 Farm Bill offers Congress an opportunity to advance program efficiency and global impact, informed by a growing body of research.

CHASP faculty fellow and LBJ School of Public Affairs assistant professor Dr. Erin Lentz collaborated with colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on a new policy report, International Food Aid and Food Assistance Programs and the Next Farm BillThe authors find that ending cargo preference restrictions and domestic procurement restrictions can help generate more funds for U.S. food aid programs, saving lives, without increasing taxpayer costs.


Key points from the report, from AEI:

  • The United States is, by far, the world’s largest food aid donor. In recent years, it has contributed more than 40 percent of the global food aid that helps feed the hungry.
  • The cargo preference policy reduces the effectiveness of US international food aid policy. If the cargo preference requirement were eliminated and contracts for shipping were awarded on a competitive basis, US food aid programs could feed an additional 1.8 million hungry people.
  • Alternative ways of providing food assistance—local and regional procurement and cash and vouchers—could significantly reduce costs and increase the speed of food assistance delivery.

The full report can be found at www.aei.org/publication/international-food-aid-and-food-assistance-programs-and-the-next-farm-bill.

Dr. Erin Lentz has worked or consulted with CARE, the United Nations World Food Program and numerous other international NGOs on markets, food security and food assistance programs. She is currently pursuing three research agendas. She studies U.S. and international food aid and food assistance policies. With her collaborators, she is developing the Women’s Empowerment in Nutrition Index. Also, she researches innovative measures to combat food insecurity in southern Africa. Dr. Lentz received a Ph.D. in sociology and an M.S. in applied economics and management from Cornell University. Lentz is also a member of the City of Austin/Travis County Food Policy Board.

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