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Week 12 The Food aid regime reading

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Gabrielle Sauter

+The Food-Aid Regime The Food Aid regime -in the postwar era, the US set up a food-aid program to channel food surpluses to Third World Countries, -surpluses arose out of the US. -Farmers specialized in one or two commodities and with technological support from the public purse, routinely overproduced. -the resulting surpluses subsidized the third-world wage bills with cheap food. It was a substantial transfer of agricultural resources to the Third World urban industrial sectors The Public Law 480 Program -PL-480 formed to dispose of farm surpluses -3 components: 1. discounted prices 2. famine relief 3. food bartered for strategic raw materials Food dependency -under the aid program, wheat imports supplied the burgeoning Third World urban populations. -cheap food thus supported consumer purchasing power and subsidized the cost of labor, stabilizing urban politics and improving the Third World environment of industrial investments -the impact of food aid varied across the world, depending on the resources of particular countries and their development policies. -South Korea was a success story largely because the govt. centralized management of its rice cultures and the supply of labor to industrial centers. -By contrast, urbanization in Colombia followed the collapse of significant parts of its agriculture under the impact of food aid and commercial imports of wheat, as the govt. did protect its farmers -usually it was cheaper and easier for govts import wheat to feed their growing urban populations than to bankroll long-term improvements in local foods. -food aid allowed govts to purchase food without depleting scarce foreign currency but it built “food dependency” -the rising consumption of imported wheat in Third World Countries was linked to two far-reaching changes: 1. the increasingly tenuous condition of peasant agriculture, as govt. organized urban food markets enabled subsidized wage foods to out compete peasant foods 2. the expansion of an industrial labor force, as small producers (outside the argo-export sector) left the land for low wage jobs in the rapidly growing cities Remaking Third World Agri
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