February 14, 2012
By Sung Lee
Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides and U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah held a press conference to discuss the FY 2013 State Department and USAID budget. Administrator Shah said, “Feed the Future program, the President and Secretary’s signature effort to advance food security around the world, is based – is funded at $1 billion and is predicated on the point that it’s cheaper and smarter to help countries feed themselves than to address famine, food riots, and failed states that result from food insecurity.” A complete replay of yesterday's briefing can be viewed on the State Department’s website. The State Department also released FY 2013 budget fact sheet.
An agency-by-agency guide to Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal 2013, Washington Post, February 13
The spending plan sets aside $770 million for the creation of a new Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund to promote democracy, good governance and free market economies in Arab nations roiled by revolt. It allocates $2.7 billion in economic assistance to support transitions in other parts of the developing world, including the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, Liberia, Haiti and Myanmar.
5 coming battles over the 2013 international affairs budget, Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy, February 13
The State Department and USAID requested $51.6 billion for fiscal year 2013, but $8.2 billion is categorized as temporarily needed funding for Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan under what's called the Overseas Contingency Operations fund (OCO) account. The remaining $43.6 billion is the "core budget" request and represents a 10 percent increase over fiscal 2012 levels as enacted by Congress.
State Department to see modest spending increase, Washington Post, February 13
The administration’s plan calls for $43.4 in funding for the department’s so-called “core” budget, with an additional $8.2 billion for “overseas contingency operations,” which includes civilian-led missions in war zones. Total spending would rise by 1.6 percent over 2012 levels. International programs don't have strong constituencies on Capitol Hill to begin with, and Congress has its own ideas for how to spend foreign aid.
On the Farm: Where China runs a trade deficit with the U.S., Wall Street Journal, February 14
Agricultural policy has lately proved a tough row to hoe for the U.S. and China — the world’s largest agriculture exporter and the world’s largest producer, respectively. There was an unexpected spat over animal feed last June, and lately top Chinese officials have been downplaying the country’s need for U.S. corn. But at least for Vice President Xi Jinping’s visit to the U.S., China is pursuing a detente in the farm fight. China is keen to cooperate with the U.S. in food security, sustainable agriculture, agricultural trade, and agricultural science and technology.
Towards a pro-poor maize policy in Kenya, IRIN, February 14
The poorest Kenyans now spend over a quarter of their income on the cereal. High and volatile prices are especially hard on the poor, including the 98 percent of farmers in Kenya who, according to the World Bank, buy more maize than they sell. Achieving lower and more stable prices, say the Bank and others, depends in large part on the government coming up with more permanent trade and marketing policies and on the East African Community reviewing its practices.
US farmers drawn to corn on high prices, Financial Times, February 13
US farmers may plant more corn than at any point since the second world war as they enjoy another year of high prices, government analysts said. The strong market has buoyed plantings of corn in rival exporters such as Brazil and Ukraine, but the USDA’s projection, included in an outlook to 2021, shows US farmers chasing prices as they make planting decisions this year.