The United States is the largest bilateral (individual country) donor of international food assistance. It spends about $4 billion per year to provide international food assistance to food-insecure countries—in both emergency food assistance to avert humanitarian crises and in development assistance to support agriculture and related sectors.
Estimated Bilateral Disbursements for International Food Assistance, 2014-2018
However, federal agencies face some challenges with effectively managing international food assistance projects.
Cargo preference laws require that a percentage of U.S. government cargo, including international food aid, be transported on U.S.-flag vessels. However, these requirements increased the overall cost of shipping food aid by an average of 23%, or $107 million, between 2011 and 2014—and their benefits are unclear.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) coordinates Feed the Future (FTF) – a federal global food security initiative. However, USAID and its FTF partner agencies are limited in their ability to assess the initiative’s progress, as they have not set performance targets for most initiative-wide indicators. Moreover, USAID should include performance targets for all indicators in its annual FTF progress reporting so this data can be used to meaningfully demonstrate progress or performance gaps.
Monetization—the sale of U.S. food commodities in developing countries to fund development—is inefficient and can cause adverse market impacts. USDA should conduct market impact evaluations after monetization transactions have taken place to determine whether they caused adverse market impacts.