Food Assistance Policy

South Sudan

Our food assistance policy work is an important complement to our food assistance programing activities. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank works in partnership with Global Affairs Canada, Canadian aid organizations, other donor countries and our coalition members to learn from and contribute to effective food assistance policies in Canada and internationally.

What are we trying to do?

Food aid was historically motivated as a means of disposing of agricultural surpluses. While feeding people, it also damaged the local markets for local food producers. We are working to ensure that food assistance is provided in ways that strengthen long-term food security and nutritional needs of girls, boys, women and men in crises-affected countries. At the global level, we work with our coalition partners to monitor the implementation of the Food Assistance Convention and other donor food assistance policies. We also advocate for greater accountability to communities that receive food assistance, including through better reporting and transparency on food assistance.

The new Food Assistance Convention came into force in 2013. Now, the treaty’s governing body, the Food Assistance Committee is taking stock of the convention’s implementation to date.  The Foodgrains Bank is working with its coalition partners in the Trans-Atlantic Food Assistance Dialogue (TAFAD) to provide feedback on ways the committee’s work could be strengthened.

What have we accomplished at the national level?

With the support of Canadian farm groups and our supporters, the Foodgrains Bank successfully persuaded the Canadian government to fully “untie” Canadian food aid in April 2008. This was to ensure that Canadian-funded food aid was purchased in developing countries from sources that are closer to the need. Canadian food aid is now largely purchased in developing countries, ensuring that the food we provide is more suited to the local diet and that nearby smallholder farmers benefit from the increased demand.

What have we accomplished at the international level?

At the global level, we led the Trans-Atlantic Food Assistance Dialogue (TAFAD), an international coalition, to push for the renegotiation of the Food Assistance Convention (FAC). The convention, which came into force in 2012, is an international agreement among 14 donor countries including the EU who pledge to provide a ‘floor level’ of food assistance each year in response to acute food crises around the world.

Compared to the previous treaty, the new treaty has two major improvements. First, it eliminated the unpredictability of food assistance. Second, it added new tools of food assistance to help get food to hungry people. This includes critical nutritional foods, livestock needed to re-establish herds, agricultural inputs, and vouchers and cash to let people buy food from local markets.

In 2016, the 14 signatories to the FAC together fulfilled annual commitments totalling US$2.63 billion to address the food security and nutritional needs of vulnerable populations. Of this amount, Canada contributed about CAD 331.5 million, exceeding its C$250 million ‘floor level’ annual commitment. Canadian Foodgrains Bank receives 8 percent of Canada’s food assistance, with the remainder going to World Food Program and Micronutrient Initiative.

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