Mr. COONS. Mr. President, I wish to speak to my amendment No. 1079 to the farm bill. This amendment--with Republican and Democratic support--would simply increase the authorization for the Local and Regional Procurement Program from $40 million per year to $60 million per year.
It would increase the flexibility for aid providers to use locally and regionally purchased food, which is an important element of U.S. food assistance. There is no score because we are simply increasing the authorization for this discretionary program.
The Local and Regional Procurement Program is based on a pilot program authorized in the 2008 farm bill to test projects that could help get food aid to hungry populations faster and more efficiently by sourcing food in the communities and regions closest to those in need.
USDA and Cornell University have studied the pilot program and found it has been able to provide aid quickly and efficiently while also supporting development of food markets in low-income countries. This amendment would simply increase the authorized funding level so we can invest additional resources in this successful program.
My amendment is supported by 20 groups, including American Jewish World Service, Bread for the World, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Church World Service, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, InterAction, Lutheran World Relief, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office, Mercy Corps, Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network--MFAN--ONE, Oxfam America, Partners in Health, Save the Children, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, United Methodist Church-General Board of Church and Society, and World Food Program USA.
I wish to thank the cosponsors of this amendment--Republicans and Democrats--for supporting this effort, including Senators JOHANNS, DURBIN, ISAKSON, and LEAHY.