Transcript

Bush Delivers Remarks on Food AID

CQ Transcripts Wire
Thursday, May 1, 2008; 4:18 PM

PRESIDENT BUSH: In recent weeks, many have expressed concern about the significant increase in global food prices. And I share that concern.

In some of the world's poorest nations, rising prices can mean the difference between getting a daily meal or going without food. To address this problem, two weeks ago, my administration announced that about $200 million in emergency food aid would be available through a program at the Agriculture Department called the Emerson Trust.

That's just the beginning of our efforts. I think more needs to be done.

And so, today I'm asking Congress to provide an additional $770 million to support food aid and development programs. Together, this amounts to nearly $1 billion in new funds to both bolster global food security. And with other security assistance programs already in place, we're now projecting to spend nearly -- that we will spend nearly $5 billion in 2008 and 2009 to fight global hunger.

This funding will keep our existing emergency food aid programs robust. We have been the leader for providing food to those who are going without in the past, and we will continue to be the leader around the world.

It will also allow us to fund agriculture development programs that help farmers in developing countries increase their productivity. And, of course, this will help reduce the number of people who need emergency food aid in the first place.

As America increases its food assistance, it's really important that we transform the way that food aid is delivered.

In my State of the Union address this year, I called on Congress to support a proposal to purchase up to nearly 25 percent of food assistance directly from farmers in the developing world. And the reason you do that is in order to break the cycle of famine that we're having to deal with too often in a modern era. It's important to help build up local agriculture.

I ask Congress to approve this measure as soon as possible. It's a common-sense way to help deal with food emergencies around the world.

Now, other countries have a role to play as well. America is in the lead. We'll stay in the lead. And we expect others to participate along with us.

We're working with our G-8 partners and other developed nations to secure commitments from their governments for additional food aid. We're also working toward the conclusion of a successful Doha agreement that will reduce and eliminate other tariffs and other barriers as well as market-distorting subsidies for agricultural goods.

BUSH: And the reason why getting a Doha round done is important is it will end up reducing the cost of food -- importing food. It'll make it cheaper for consumers all around the world. In other words, we want to change the system to make it easier for people to get less expensive food.


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