“Working for peanuts” is a phrase typically used when someone is toiling for little reward. But when describing the activities of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a far better phrase is “working with peanuts,” especially when referring to the agreement recently reached by USDA to provide this nutritional commodity to a neighboring nation in great need, the Republic of Haiti.
USDA crafted a deal that will result in 500 metric tons of packaged, dry-roasted peanuts grown in the United States to be shipped later this year to school children in Haiti who have little access to food. This effort stems from the “Stocks for Food” program that first started in late 2007, a joint project between the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) and Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) that transfers surplus farm commodities in government inventory to feeding programs and food banks both domestically and overseas.
The school feeding project in Haiti, where the United Nations will distribute the peanuts, is funded by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service through the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, which sends domestic agricultural commodities to school feeding programs at primary schools around the world that are struggling against poverty, malnutrition, and disease. The surplus peanuts will help feed nearly 140,000 malnourished kids for a full school year. Having food available for the kids increases their attendance at school and improves their ability to learn.
The Farm Service Agency joins the Foreign Agricultural Service in prideful use of the nation’s commodities to help nations in need. FSA’s Commodity Operations staff in Washington, D.C., and Kansas City, Missouri, worked diligently to procure the peanuts necessary to fulfill the international food-aid mission led by FAS and the domestic needs addressed by the Food and Nutrition Service. The multi-agency, USDA effort is especially rewarding when all of the puzzle pieces fit and a commodity is used wisely to meet nutrition requirements of people throughout the world.
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Ever give any thought to the fact you are gutting the market for Haitian peanut farmers? How about buying the peanuts in Haiti? That way you help two groups at once and the money recirculates inside a very poor country doing even more good.
I don't think that's good at all , I want the US to state its intent, why don't they help with getting Haiti to be capable to test the peanuts for salmonella.
Its an admirable concept but why on earth are you importing American peanuts when peanuts are one of the few agricultural products Haiti is able to produce? Do you realize you are totally undermining the local peanut market and therefore putting the farming communities, whose children you are trying to help, increasingly at risk by jeopardizing their livelihood!??
Peanuts are produced locally in Haiti and are an important part of the local economy. Doing this harms local farmers, their families, and the peanut market. Who evaluated this idea? We already did this with rice, and it had disastrous effects. Why are we choosing to repeat the same mistake? There is more to this story. Some one is inevitably profiting off of this -it's greed disguised as altruism.
I can actually post the names of a few Haitian farmers who would be hurt by this dump.
Remember when the USA wiped out Haiti's rice farmers? Now peanut farmers will be next! Support Haitian agriculture and stop dumping excess that hurts the local economy!
Instead of dumping a whole lot of peanuts on a country that already produces very good peanuts, how about you put all that effort and import Haitian peanuts instead? That would encourage the Haitian peanut farmers, the Haitian economy, and treat the Haitians as real people instead of beggars who can't live on anything but charity. I thought "the greatest country in the world" had a bigger brain than a pea.
"We the imperialist Americans will come and give you food you already have, in order to kill the few jobs you already have and to help our own already subsidized agricultural corporation. And we'll call it Humanitarian. We're so amazing."
A suggestion for USDA: help Haitian farmers increase their production and then buy THEIR production for your food program. Thanks.
I'm currently in Haiti eating Haitian peanuts while I read this...
Please don't do that. The peanuts will not get to schools. They will be siphoned off by others and sold on the open market, undermining the Haitian peanut farmers market. I was there when you sent raisins. The raisins were sold on the street, not given to the children. Send them something the Haitian farmers cannot grow.
The United States ruined the Haitian rice industry. Do NOT now ruin the Haitian peanut industry. Haitian farmers product peanuts and those yields are improving. Importing US peanuts is a wretched idea and clearly is set up to benefit US farmers NOT the Haitian people. You want to help them?? Send money.
NO! NO! NO! Please stop washing out local economies with these hare-brained schemes, already! I am a U.S. citizen who lives in HAITI—this is a TERRIBLE idea! Please invest in the HAITIAN farmer instead! This "gift from the American people" will be a fishbone on which we will all choke-Haitian farmers whose market is flooded by cheap imports will further resent all American humanitarian intervention which has left them jobless and hungry. This has happened twice in less than two generations (1957-present) in Haiti (the Creole pig and the rice), and resentment against the American people is at an all-time high. At least have the decency to buy local stock first for these programs. President Clinton has already apologized for his part in the economic devastation that the cheap US rice imports wreaked on Haiti's economy--can we please not make the same mistake twice? Thank you!
Can we stop already? Haitians do not need U.S. peanuts to destroy their peanut production, one of the few things they have left that have not been taken away by other countries, including us. I am so tired of this stuff! Rice, the Creole pig, now peanuts. In the name of all that's holy, just stop.
This is a terrible idea and you know that it will hurt local production and that USDA may try to distribute to schools but that these peanuts are going to end up being sold on the open market - crushing local producers.
We've seen this before with other surplus foods, these peanuts will inevitably end up on the black market, sold at very low costs, lower than the locally grown peanuts. The market participants most affected will be farmers (many of them likely parents of the kids this program is purported to help). USAID - US Agency for International Development, please reconsider your project that you hope is a "prideful use of the nation’s commodities to help nations in need." Because it most certainly will not end up that way. Let us not forget the story of the rice industry, or what little is left of it after surplus white washing.
That's why we call it U.S. Aid--because it aids the U.S. farmers while it harms the poor Haitian farmer trying to sell the product he worked so hard to produce. I thought the U.S. would learn from history. This is the worst form of "aid"--competing with the poor Haitian farmer. Please buy from the local farmers and put the money directly into the Haitian economy. Please stop this nonsense!
While I am sure this stems from good intentions - the comments so far here are spot on. This would not help Haiti - it would hurt Haiti because of the damage it would do to Haitian peanut farmers who are working hard to earn a living. Just ask President Clinton about how a deal he negotiated for cheap rice from Arkansas for Haiti ended up being something he regrets. Those of us who live and work in Haiti know what we're talking about here. Please reconsider.
As a Haitian resident, it's easy to imagine the harmful impact on haitian farmers in the Plateau and Northeast. This will negatively impact the entire domestic peanut value chain.
Stop it. Just stop it. You are not helping Haiti. You are helping rich American farmers on the backs of the poor in Haiti. Just stop it.
How come none of you understand that the true reason of this great gesture is to help their own peanut growing farmers. They don't care if in so doing they destroy the haitian peanut growing farmers. Down the road, a US president, like Clinton with the rice dumping, will ask for forgiveness for having done great harm to the peanut industry in Haiti. There is nothing humanitarian in this endeavor. As some one suggested in his response, best would have been to buy local peanuts. They would have killed two birds with one stone.
This does more harm than good. Haiti produces plenty of peanuts. Dumping subsidized peanuts in Haiti will only serve to undermine local farmers.
Why? why? Why?
If the U.S. truly wants to "help" then they would assist the farmers that already grow peanuts in Haiti. Why are they shipping all those peanuts to Haiti? Especially, when there are already peanuts in Haiti.
Not too mention, there are a thousands of children starving in the U.S.A. that could benefit from those peanuts. Where are there peanuts?
I don't have anything to say that hasn't already been argued here, but as an American living abroad in Haiti who has seen the disastrous effects of this kind of "humanitarian aid," I need to add my voice to those objecting to this misguided effort. Please reconsider this idea that will ultimately do more harm than good in Haiti.
Terrible idea. Help the local farmers grow more peanuts, and you'll really help the Hatian people. They don't need free stuff, they need help building a sustainable future.
We do not need peanuts from the states...we have a beautiful local production and suppoprting are local farmers will provide more long term solutions!!! Please do not be selfish in your acts and think this through
Good intentions! With likely destructive results. If the US is truly interested in feeding Haitian students, why don't they try to do so using local (Haitian) peanuts, instead of undermining the local economy? Give the local farmers a boost too. Let's not be careless with our involvement in a fragile, developing world economy.
quit flooding the Haitian market! Instead let's help this poor country build it's food economy!
And you really think you're helping haitians doing this?!? USDA have done this already with rice and it destroyed the local market. Now peanuts. One of the last thing thats grows and sells well in Haiti. Why do you think haitans are sick of international interventions, and among others, american ones. Makes me sad to read this, because I know, that You too know, what you are really doing and what consequences it's going to have.
Please don't send surplus peanuts to Haiti! Peanuts grown in Haiti serve as an important source of income to local farmers, their families, and the peanut market. The US needs to be finding ways to support Haitian agriculture, not putting Haitian farmers out of work! We already did this with rice, with terrible consequences.
Please do not do this. It will be another death blow to Haitian agriculture. Our government already saw how poorly this worked with rice in the 1990s. 20 years later, local rice now sells for 1.5 times the price of US imported rice, and this has destroyed the local rice production. As has already been said--please buy local products first for these feeding programs. The cost of purchasing and distributing local food stuffs is about the same as importing and transporting our American product--buying locally would provide much more sustainable support and would be a much better PR move.
Dear Ms. Wood,
Could you please add information to this post to alleviate some of the questions raised above? What is being done to assure that these peanuts are not sold on the open market? What is being done to help advance local peanut production?
I have Haitian friends who think this is a very harmful idea! Please don't do it! It will hurt Haitian farmers.
Bill Clinton has destroyed the rice industry in Haiti. Now Obama wants to eliminate the peanut industry? They are not helping Haiti, they are helping the US farmers. Obama, please take your farm peanut surplus, somewhere else. Don't destroy our peanut industry like Bill Clinton has done for the rice for which we have yet to recover.
The only problem is that by doing so you interfere with the Haitian production of the product. In the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, decimating a market is in no way assisting that country. I've seen the pictures of the bodies of dead children piled up so high in the morgue, there just wasn't any more room. And that was BEFORE the 7.3 earthquake in Port-au-Prince. Please, find another country to unload the excess peanuts you've purchased from US farmers. Doing this in Haiti will only add to the very difficult problems its citizens face daily. With an 80% unemployment rate, cutting even more income producing activities in this way is purely asinine and borders on evil.
This is Ridiculous! We have plenty of peanuts, killing yet another local product!
Don't do it!! This will have major repercussions on the country and so many farmers and people will be negatively effected by this. Farmers make a living off their peanuts and Haitian peanut butter is amazing. Think about what you are doing...
It is so important that they can thrive locally.
Who is profiting from this? Humanitarian terrorism. Why doesn't the USDA pay for the school tuition instead. That way parents can use the school money and buy food. I lived in Haiti, and no, there are no free schools. Besides, Haitian peanuts taste way better than the ones from the U.S. The U.S. is also working on producing GMO peanuts (genetically modified organism).Just wondering if the Haitian children will be there guinea pigs.
In addition to the many concerns addressed already, what is the plan with the packaging of said "500 metric tons of packaged peanuts" in a country where there is no trash collection?
Will the USDA be proud of their American trash that is adding to the already devistating situation? Just as they are proud of their plan to nourish the children of peanut farmers with foreign peanuts? The children who survive on the small money their mom makes selling peanuts on the road?
Whoever thinks these peanuts will 'only go to school children and not affect the local market' is fooling themselves!!! Have you seen the crazy numbers of "Feed my starving children" bags being sold on the streets?!?! These hand outs are NOT helping!!!
We need to think about long term reality here. Trash, devistated local economy, irrational sense of 'do-good' with this 'gift from the American people!'
At what point will we realize that this is anything BUT a gift?!?!
Please do not do this. Haiti's farmers produce great peanuts, give schools money instead to purchase locally grown peanuts instead of implementing this project that will put Haitian farmers out of business.
See this petition, if there are enough signatures, I hope it can make a difference
Who can we write to at USDA to explain the reality of this decision? I live in Haiti. There are peanuts in Haiti! Help the farmers distribute those. And they make great spicy peanut butter!
This is the worst idea ever. So many farmers are going to lose their livelihood. Invest in the farmer not dumping our extra there. Use our extras to feed our people and let Haitian farmers keep their jobs!
I lived in Haiti for six years. I routinely saw Haitian school children purchasing Haitian peanuts on their breaks. This is only a good idea if we are trying to kill the Haitian peanut industry. Please don't pretend it is good for Haiti. It is not.
On the contrary, the US Peanut Council flew down to Haiti in January to research the effects of this decision. Though arguments on the quantity have merit, it is important to remember they did take precautions to avoid over saturating the market by sending the peanuts to a closed distribution market. Also, there are still in-country programs that are funded through USAID that are directly increasing Haitian peanut production and exclusively buying these peanuts on a large scale. Check out PMIL Haiti and Acceso Peanut Enterprise.
PMIL Haiti ((http://www.pmil.caes.uga.edu/news/index.html))
Acceso Haiti https://www.clintonfoundation.org/our-work/clinton-giustra-enterprise-p…
First: there are peanut farmers in Haiti. You are taking business from them. Second: our schoolchildren cannot take peanuts to school. Why are you sending peanuts to Haitian schoolchildren? Why are you sending food they can grow? Please rethink this. Then just stop.
This is a bad deal for Haitian peanut growers. I saw the same thing happen when Doctors Without Boarders opened a free clinic near a for profit clinic which employed local nurses & doctors. The for profit clinic had to lay off employees which resulted in death threats against the administration of the clinic through no fault of their own doing!
America, back at it again ruining Haiti's already horrible economy and chances of self sustainability
There is a White House petition opposing dumping of US peanuts in Haiti: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/halt-planned-usda-dumping-us-…
Please, please, please leave Haiti alone.
If you think peanut dumping is bad, then you must not be aware of electoral choke-hold.
The US can decide who should move to the second round of Haitian elections, and yet we have a problem with them dumping peanuts there. Let's get our priority straight.
If Haitians were able to elect responsible leaders, do you think peanuts dumping would be even a consideration?
This is a well-meaning but TERRIBLE idea! The US government put Haitian rices farmers out of business in the 90's (something that President Clinton has apologized for) and now we want to do the same to Haitian peanut farmers. Please do not dump American peanuts on a country with an economy that is already extremely fragile.
As was the case with the importation of rice in the 90's, this will create another entire group of people leaving their land and moving to the very difficult slums of the city. The US should be buying Haitian grown peanuts for these schools. Support their local agriculture!