Published online: Mar 09, 2009
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Last week, several signatories to the letter met with USDA. The pilot project examines the advantages and disadvantages of Local and Regional Procurement (LRP) and ensures that all the complexities of the food assistance alternatives are explored fully. Under programs that utilize in-kind food assistance, U.S. commodities including dehydrated potatoes are made available to Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs) for distribution abroad.
Under a LRP program PVOs are provided cash and are allowed to purchase food locally or regionally in countries near the recipient country. USDA began the pilot project, with an initial report that was released just days before the transition to the new Administration. The legislation tasked the USDA to develop a report using existing literature and development organizations' experiences with LRP. The intent was to set forth all the relevant issues confronting both LRP and in-kind food assistance such as PL 480, Food for Progress and the McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Programs.
The USDA report was to develop guidelines and methodologies that will govern the implementation of the pilot procurement program. However, the report seems to underestimate or overlook the potential negative aspects of LRP and support the concept that in-kind food aid, no matter how nutritious or beneficial, is somehow less-effective than locally or regionally produced foods or cash donations.
NPC Executive Vice President and CEO John Keeling attended the meeting with USDA along with a representative of the U.S. Potato Board. NPC will continue to monitor this situation.