Controversy Surrounding Haiti Peanut Donation

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On paper, it seems to be a great goodwill gesture, a heroic plan to send 500 metric tons of surplus U.S. peanuts to feed 140,000 malnourished Haitian schoolchildren for a full year, but it is clear that Haitifs own peanut market stands to lose when surplus peanuts from the United States are flown in as food aid. The critics are of opinion that dumping of excess U.S peanuts to Haiti is an act of "crop dumping"-- it is wrong and will be a disaster for Haitian peanut farmers, and ultimately it wonft help the people the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) intends to serve. However, USDA is defending its plan, saying that the donation would represent only 1.4% of Haitifs annual peanut production.

The Congressional Budget Office suggest that in the current fiscal year the U.S farmers stand to receive subsidies totaling between $960 million and $1.9 billion and many of the U.S peanut growers are sophisticated business owners perfectly capable of coping with a free market and they are in no way comparable to their poor Haitian counterpart.

Peanut production in Haiti is a huge source of livelihood for up to a half-million people, of whom many are women. As per different aid groups, dumping of subsidized crop will deliver an economic blow to struggling Haitian peanut farmers. We might remember that in the mid-1990s, the Haitian government bowed to the U.S pressure and dropped its tariff on imported rice to nearly zero. Haitian market was flooded with foreign rice, mostly from the US, and as a consequence to that Haitian rice production plummeted. The negative impact of this was acknowledged by former President Bill Clinton in 2010. He said, gIt may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked.h

Advanced economic countries like the U.S have a long history of food assistance to poor countries, but critics are of opinion that in most cases, they use the developing countries as a dumping ground for their agricultural surplus. The Haitian government is helpless here to some extent, because it doesnft have the financial resources to subsidize farmers or protect them against imbalanced trade agreements.

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