Today in look for the helpers: On March 22, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and one of the things they talked about was changes they plan to put forward in this year’s farm bill to make it easier (and faster) for the U.S. to provide food aid internationally.
This is something Bob Corker (R) and Chris Coons (D) have focused on for a few years, and it has broad bipartisan support, for a lot of reasons. Feeding starving people lets us live up to our moral responsibility as a nation; protects our security interests; and helps stabilize U.S. food prices, which helps both consumers and farmers.
(No matter how much a free-market purist you are, it must be acknowledged that it’s hard to respond quickly to shifts in demand when your product is a plant that takes years to grow, or an animal that takes years to raise. Trading futures can defray some of the risks, but only if you’re a sufficiently large operation or a collective – the opposite of the “many small firms” that characterize market freedom.)
Notably, Corker and Coons have met frequently with NGO’s like CARE to find ways to structure foreign food aid in ways that don’t put local farmers out of business and make future famines inevitable. Smart people working together and being smart!
Following up their Tillerson meeting, on March 23, a large chunk of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, including Senators Todd Young (R-IN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and my senator, Ed Markey (D-MA), sent an official letter calling on Tillerson to lead “an urgent and comprehensive diplomatic effort to address political obstacles in northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen that are preventing humanitarian aid from being delivered to people who desperately need it.”
Or to express all of this with fewer words (with bonus making America great again AND government funding for the arts), check out this great poster from 1918.