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U.S. food aid restrictions costly

WASHINGTON, March 30 (UPI) -- U.S. restrictions on food assistance to other countries cost millions of dollars annually, two aid groups said in a report.

Oxfam America and the American Jewish World Service urged the U.S. Congress to end regulations that require donated U.S. food to come from U.S. suppliers and be transported on U.S. ships, the British newspaper The Guardian reported. They said in a report released Thursday 17 million more people could have been fed in 2010 without the restrictions.

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The United States provides about $2 billion in food assistance to the World Food Program every year, about half the total. But the report suggested $500 million is wasted annually.

The restrictions were written into the Farm Bill, which is up for reauthorization this year.

"Food aid is a vital part of U.S. foreign policy, but we are shortchanging millions of hungry people with unnecessary red tape," Timi Gerson, director of advocacy at the AJWS, said in a statement. "U.S. policies are ripe for reforms that will save lives now and reduce the need for aid later by enabling local farmers to thrive."

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