On March 24, President Obama sent his request to Congress for a supplemental spending bill to support relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti. The House of Representatives will soon vote on their version of the funding bill, which has the potential to include language that promotes local and regional food purchase in Haiti. The Senate version of the bill does not include this language.
The $2.8 billion Haiti supplemental bill provides a key opportunity to promote self-sufficiency for Haiti and its government. Right now we have a chance to pave a new way forward for U.S. food aid that supports local and regional agriculture over international agribusiness.
Congress has not yet passed this bill and the people of Haiti are still waiting. Congress must not wait any longer to vote in support of this funding, which must include support for Haitian agriculture.
Urge your Representative to move quickly to pass a supplemental funding bill for Haiti, which provides immediate relief and supports Haitian-led, decentralized recovery efforts.
The House of Representatives has the chance to prioritize local and regional procurement of food, cash vouchers and other programs that support locally-led reconstruction efforts that will foster Haiti's ability to feed its own people. When local and regional food is not prioritized, Haitian agricultural markets suffer and people go hungry. The Senate version of the supplemental bill does not address local and regional procurement of food in Haiti, so it is imperative that the House version includes this language and that this language is supported in the final passage of the bill.
The U.S. must lead the way in ensuring that the funding pledges made at the UN Donor Conference in March are fulfilled. Swift passage of the Haiti Supplemental will provide a strong message that other countries must quickly fulfill their obligations as well. In addition, projects not just in Haiti but around the world are being curtailed due to lack of funding, which requires a replenishment of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) account through this Supplemental. As Congress waits to pass this measure, some of the most vulnerable people in the world will be the first to feel the effects.
Haiti needs our help in meeting people's immediate needs, including shelter, food, and water. As we work toward reconstruction it is also vital that our support promotes job creation for Haitians, particularly in rural areas, to build back livelihoods, communities, and the larger economy. Our help must come now. The rainy season, which has already started, and hurricane season, which starts in June, will only exacerbate this desperate situation.
I urge you to do all you can to ensure that Congress passes a supplemental bill that includes language promoting flexibility for local and regional procurement of food.
Thank you for considering this request. The tragedy in Haiti must call forth our country's most compassionate and generous response.