Creating a food reserve
ROME -- When the agriculture ministers from the G-20 countries met in Paris in June, they assigned the World Food Program the job of developing a pilot program for an emergency food reserve, but the language surrounding the reserve is so tepid it...
ROME -- When the agriculture ministers from the G-20 countries met in Paris in June, they assigned the World Food Program the job of developing a pilot program for an emergency food reserve, but the language surrounding the reserve is so tepid it will be surprising if it amounts to much.
French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire said the physical reserve of food is necessary because in some parts of the world food shortages are a real possibility. Free market advocates never have been fond of reserves, saying that their existence is likely to interfere with markets and most likely lower prices.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in Paris that while the United States thinks transparency in markets makes physical reserves unnecessary, and that a "virtual" reserve can be developed based on market information, it has agreed to keep "an open mind" about the reserve.
Work to continue
Josette Sheeran, the executive director of the World Food Program, said in a news release that WFP would take responsibility for developing the reserve pilot project, but she did not highlight the proposal, listing it second among the parts of the agreement she praised.
Sheeran said the action plan would "give vulnerable nations and people predictable and rapid access to sufficient food in times of need by asking WFP and others to propose the design of a targeted emergency humanitarian food reserves system."
Sheeran, an American, was an appointee of President George W. Bush in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the State Department before becoming head of the World Food Program, a Rome-based U.N. agency that distributes food aid.