Wednesday, March 26, 2008

US Government's Humanitarian Relief Agency Cutting Back

Another in a series of articles about the real impact of agflation and the coming (arrived?) food crisis globally- the dollar amounts in this article are a pittance compared to how much a few warships, or jets cost but remember, war first - food second. (Entire budget here is $1.2 Billion) This is from earlier this month and I missed it...

Lennon: All We are Saying... is Give Food a Chance....

Now, I do wonder when does the government begin helping poor Americans? Oh yes that's right - thats an entitlement (darn food stamps, only for lazy people) and a Democratic initiative - so there is no way we can pass that because the Democrats would get credit it. Not a problem. More Humvees please!
  • The U.S. government's humanitarian relief agency will significantly scale back emergency food aid to some of the world's poorest countries this year because of soaring global food prices, and the U.S. Agency for International Development is drafting plans to reduce the number of recipient nations, the amount of food provided to them, or both, officials at the agency said.
  • USAID officials said that a 41 percent surge in prices for wheat, corn, rice and other cereals over the past six months (remember inflation even included food and energy is somehow only 4% by OFFICIAL government statistics) has generated a $120 million budget shortfall that will force the agency to reduce emergency operations. That deficit is projected to rise to $200 million by year's end.
  • "We're in the process now of going country by country and analyzing the commodity price increase on each country," said Jeff Borns, director of USAID's Food for Peace, the organization's food aid arm. "Then we're going to have to prioritize."
  • The reductions, international relief agencies say, will seriously complicate already strained efforts to combat global hunger, particularly in Africa, Central Asia and Latin America. Poor countries in those regions are struggling to cope with record food price surges, which have made it difficult for aid groups to sustain their operations in some countries.
  • The U.N. program is confronting similar price pressures. It announced this month that it was facing a $505 million shortfall due to soaring food and fuel costs, and would cut distribution if it did not receive new funds.
  • Meanwhile, need is increasing. Afghanistan, for instance, recently put in an emergency request for $77 million to cope with skyrocketing prices that have put key staples out of reach for more and more Afghans.
  • "Look at what's happened to wheat prices alone -- they shot up 25 percent in one day last week," said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program. "This is really the first emergency we've faced without a drought, war, natural disaster. We will have to cut the amount of people being served or the amount of food being served if we do not get more funds."
  • Groups that work with USAID, several of which have been informed of the shortfall over the past two weeks, are alarmed. Emergency aid is earmarked only for countries in desperate need as a result of natural disasters, civil strife or other humanitarian crises. Although the United States has proportionally provided less of the world's food aid in recent years, it still provides about half the global total in efforts to relieve hunger among more than 800 million people.
  • Frank Orzechowski, an adviser for Catholic Relief Services, said his organization has calculated that U.S. food aid would drop from 2.6 million tons last year to about 2.2 million this year. "That is going to be a pretty big hit for the people who can afford it the least," he said.
  • The biggest concern is that there are going to be more people being pushed into food insecurity in poor countries because they don't have the purchasing power to cover higher costs, and we will be less rather than more prepared to cope with that. Higher commodity prices is not a situation that the U.S. is to blame for, but we are going to need to see it step up now and decide to make a greater contribution anyway."
More liquidity injections please, Ben. We need them - hedge fund managers need the cash infusions, after all we can't have deleveraging from 30:1 level to 20:1 - please send more paper money into the system so hedge fund managers can feed their families. We're now hearing the first signs of anguish in the financial community - bankers wives forced to cut back on spending $50K on window valences. The horror - hell hath no fury like an apartment decorated for under $300K - I don't know how they will be able to show their face at the next cocktail party. Please cut to help these poor wives out. More... more... more. Print. Print. Print. Inflation is only 4% in one government agency while 41% (in half a year) in another - keep the obfuscation going... the sheep remain confused and won't understand what happened for maybe 10+ years from now. Oops, I remember now - by lower rates by 75 basis points instead of 100 points and inserting some "strong language" about inflation in your last statement you ARE fighting inflation. CNBC told me that so it must be. My bad! Carry on the "fight". And please tell us how hard you are fighting it on the next liquidity injection as well, sometimes I forget in my lather....

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