CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY - CIDA

CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY - CIDA

September 22, 2005 12:21 ET

CIDA: Canada Opens Food Aid Purchases to Developing Countries

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Sept. 22, 2005) - Minister of International Cooperation, Aileen Carroll, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Andy Mitchell, and Minister of International Trade, Jim Peterson, announced today that in order to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of our assistance to hungry people world-wide, the Canadian Government is changing its food aid policy. Up to 50 % of Canada's food aid will now be able to be purchased in developing countries. Until now, Canada's food aid purchases in developing countries were limited by a 10 % ceiling.

"This new policy gives us the ability to respond more quickly and with greater flexibility to disasters world-wide, buying more food and feeding a greater number of people in need," said Minister Carroll. "It will help lower transportation costs, provide more culturally appropriate food, and allow Canada's aid dollars to go further while supporting local farmers in developing countries."

The purchase of untied food aid will be extended to a list of lower income countries in order to maximize the development effectiveness of this policy, while ensuring that users of trade distorting subsidies are not eligible as source countries.

"This change was made after extensive consultation with the Canadian agricultural community, who believe this is an appropriate step to assist those in genuine need," said Minister Mitchell.

"This is about showing our commitment to helping developing countries," said Minister Peterson. "Canada is showing leadership by taking action in food-aid reform."

This announcement is in line with the positions of many of Canada's major agricultural organizations, who now support increased flexibility in food aid sourcing policy. There will be minimal impacts on Canadian farmers from this policy change as Canadian domestic food aid purchases account for only approximately 0.3% of total Canadian agri-food production.

Backgrounder

UNTYING CANADIAN FOOD AID PROGRAMMING

The Canadian Government has decided to loosen the restrictions on sourcing Canadian food aid to include up to 50 per cent sourcing from developing countries. This follows a 2002 Cabinet decision that expanded the Canadian International Development Agency's (CIDA) general aid untying authority, specifically excluded food aid to allow for "further consultations and analysis." While other components of aid have been untied, Canada's food aid had remained subject to a 10 per cent untying level.

The benefits of further untying Canada's food aid include: increased flexibility and timeliness in the response to emergencies; lower cost in many instances; and increased international market opportunities to developing country agricultural producers. A decision to loosen the restrictions on sourcing Canadian food aid to include up to 50 per cent sourcing from developing countries is a substantial contribution to the development effectiveness agenda. A recent OECD study has argued that untying can increase the cost-effectiveness of food aid by approximately 30%.

A number of major Canadian agricultural organizations have recently revised their policy positions to support increased flexibility in Canada's food aid sourcing policy. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture recently adopted a policy resolution calling for sourcing flexibility for up to 50 per cent of Canadian food aid. The Western Canadian Wheat Growers' Association and the Western Barley Growers' Associations have also recently passed resolutions in support of
increased flexibility in Canada's food aid sourcing. Preliminary consultations with other agricultural organizations, including the Grain Growers of Canada, Canadian Wheat Board and the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance have also elicited favourable responses to the 50 per cent sourcing proposal.

In 2004-2005, Canadian food aid was used in large proportion for emergency situations and to support school feeding programs. Studies have shown that in emergency situations, aid received within the first months of crises is the most critical for protecting the lives and livelihoods of the affected people. As it is often faster and cheaper to buy food in nearby markets, this proposal could augment Canada's ability to respond efficiently and cost-effectively to global crises. For school feeding programs, local purchase helps to reduce distortions in local agricultural markets and provides more culturally appropriate food. In both cases, buying food in local or regional markets would contribute to local and regional agricultural development.

The flexible sourcing provision will be limited to a specified list of lower income countries as agreed to by the ministers of CIDA, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and International Trade Canada. This will maximize the development effectiveness of the policy, while ensuring that users of trade distorting subsidies are not eligible as source countries.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
    Andrew Graham
    Director of communications
    (819) 953-6238
    or
    Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
    Media Relations Office
    (819) 953-6534
    info@acdi-cida.gc.ca
    http://www.cida.gc.ca (electronic version of document)
    or
    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Media Relations
    (613)759-7972 or 1-866-345-7972
    or
    Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
    Matt Tolley
    Press Secretary
    (613) 759-1059
    or
    Office of the Minister of International Trade
    Jacqueline LaRocque
    Director of Communications
    (613) 992-7332
    or
    International Trade Canada
    Media Relations Office
    (613) 995-1874
    http://www.international.gc.ca