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MADRE Calls for Farm Bill to Reshape Food Aid

August 6, 2007–New York–MADRE, an international women's human rights organization, calls for a change in US food aid policy so that it reaches more people and supports local farmers in countries affected by food crises. MADRE is mobilizing its 23, 000 members to call for a provision in the 2007 US Farm Bill–set to be reauthorized by Congress next month–that would extend the reach and efficiency of international US food aid.

The US is the world's biggest provider of food aid, spending $2 billion annually. But the entire amount is earmarked for US-based companies that grow, package, and ship federal food aid. The system rewards the few agribusiness giants already slated to receive $26 billion in subsidies by the Farm Bill. MADRE supports a proposal by the Bush Administration to transfer about $300 million in subsidies (roughly 25 percent of the budget for food aid) to enable food to be purchased by local farmers in the country or region in need.

As reported by The New York Times on July 31, the UN World Food Program found that it was able to obtain 75 percent more corn to feed hungry families in Africa between 2001 and 2005 by buying corn from local farmers in Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia instead of from US factory farms.

Globally, nearly 800 million people are chronically hungry–almost 70 percent of them are women and girls. Issues of world hunger and food security are central to women's human rights. MADRE's upcoming Food for Life Campaign will call for a US Farm Bill that upholds international human rights standards, including the right to food, and supports sustainable solutions to interconnected global problems of hunger, health, nutrition, poverty, biodiversity, climate change, labor rights, migration, Indigenous rights, and women's human rights, through concrete policy changes.

Vivian Stromberg, MADRE's Executive Director, said recently, "Food aid policy has to include long-term goals of combating hunger and poverty. Buying food from local farmers in the Global South instead of threatening their livelihoods by dumping subsidized US-grown food on local markets is a clear step in the right direction. Besides, how often do we get to support a policy that President Bush is backing?"

To view the action alert that MADRE has issued, please go to: /index.php?s=4&news=98

Available for interviews:

Yifat Susskind, MADRE's Communications Director, worked for several years as part of a joint Israeli-Palestinian human rights organization in Jerusalem before joining MADRE. She has written extensively on US foreign policy and women's human rights; her critical analysis has appeared in online and print publications such as (not found), Foreign Policy in Focus (not found), and The W Effect: Bush's War on Women, published by the Feminist Press in 2004. Ms. Susskind has been featured as a commentator on CNN, National Public Radio, and BBC Radio. She is the coordinator of MADRE's upcoming Food for Life Campaign.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a member of MADRE's International Network of Experts, is an Indigenous leader from the Cordillera region in the Philippines and co-president of the board of the International Forum on Globalization. She is head of the Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education) in the Philippines. She helped organize and convene the United Nation's (UN) Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. Tauli-Corpuz is also chairperson of the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations and convenor of the Asian Indigenous Women's Network. She is one of the leading indigenous activists lobbying for UN General Assembly adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and is the currently elected chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Tauli-Corpuz is also co-editor, with Jerry Mander of the newly released Paradigm Wars: Indigenous Peoples Resistance to Globalization(Sierra Club / UC Press – October 2006).