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Obama Budget Dramatically Shifts Food Aid Policy for First Time in Decades

Preident Obama has asked for $47.8 billion for the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, a six percent decrease from 2012 levels, because of the lower requests for Iraq and Afghanistan.

The budget proposes the most sweeping change in U.S. food aid in decades, with a plan intended to feed more people and deliver food more quickly. It would end a practice of buying food from American farmers and shipping it overseas.

Under the plan, Washington would donate $1.1 billion to a disaster relief account for food vouchers that would be used to buy food from suppliers located near areas of need.

Shipping can double food aid costs because, by law, supplies must be transported on U.S.-flagged vessels.

An additional $250 million would be provided to economic development projects and $75 million would be earmarked for emergency relief.

The food aid proposal could face a tough fight. Aid groups disagree over whether the switch to cash donation is advisable. And two dozen senators wrote the White House in March to try to derail the change.

However, proponents said the plan would let the United States feed millions more people each year, while assisting farmers in poor countries by buying their crops.

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