Explicit interests

Even if USAID wanted to invest money in helping Haiti to become self-sufficient in rice or sugar production, the agency is prohibited from doing so by a little-known American law called the Bumpers Amendment. The law prevents U.S. government aid from being spent on programs that could benefit crops that might compete with American exports on the global market. As then-Sen. Dale Bumpers, D-Ark., said in 1985, the law is designed to “prevent American tax dollars from being used to help foreign countries who are trying to take our export markets.” It is the reason farmers like Gilbert would not be eligible for USAID programs if they were growing rice or sugar rather than lettuce or mangoes.

From Maura O’Conner’s ongoing piece on aid and Haiti at Slate.

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