June 22,2004

Grassley Expresses Concerns to USTR on WTO Food Aid Proposals

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, today wroteto the U.S. Trade Representative to express his concerns regarding proposals in the current WorldTrade Organization (WTO) agricultural negotiations that could threaten U.S. food aid programs,including programs that provide high protein soy-fortified foods to impoverished victims ofHIV/AIDS.

The text of Grassley’s letter follows.

June 22, 2004

The Honorable Robert B. Zoellick
U.S. Trade Representative
600 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20508

Dear Ambassador Zoellick:

I am writing with regard to the subject of food aid in the ongoing Doha Development Agendanegotiations of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

U.S. food aid programs, including programs under Title II of P.L. 480, play an instrumentalrole in reducing hunger and improving health throughout the world. As an example, U.S. food aidprograms are being used to provide impoverished victims of HIV/AIDS in developing countries withsoy-fortified foods, thus combating the potentially debilitating effects of HIV/AIDS. Given thatprotein is already lacking in the diets of many people in the developing world, and given that victimsof HIV/AIDS are in particular often unable to afford foods high in protein, such U.S. food aid isindeed life-sustaining for those receiving it. Moreover, such programs better enable U.S. agriculturalproducers, including Iowa soybean farmers, to contribute to the alleviation of suffering around theworld, including suffering caused by HIV/AIDS.

Accordingly, I am concerned by proposals at the WTO by some of our negotiating partnersthat would threaten U.S. food aid programs and the individual projects that result from them, suchas current projects that provide high protein soy-fortified foods to HIV/AIDS victims. Some of theseproposals, if adopted, would limit the flexibility of WTO members in deciding how to give such aid.Flexibility is required when addressing an issue as complex as world hunger, so I urge that U.S.negotiators work to ensure that needed flexibility in providing food aid is not lost as a result ofcurrent WTO talks. While I believe that nothing should be off the table during the ongoing WTOnegotiations, the ability of the United States to provide legitimate humanitarian assistance shouldnot be threatened.

I also note that I am wary of proposals that would require that food aid be provided throughcash assistance only. After all, while cash donations might be sent, they would not necessarily beconverted into food for those most in need.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


Charles E. Grassley