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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Problems With Aid

Editor: We were pleased to see "When Farm Aid Never Reaches Farms" (Feb.1), describing some of the problems that exist in the implementation of Western assistance programs. There was one important detail in the story that may need some clarification. The rubles that the Russian Humanitarian Commission uses to fund social services, health care, and agricultural development projects are generated from the sales of U.S. donated commodities. Decisions regarding which projects are funded are made by the Russian side, by a small sub-set of the Commission called the "Tender Committee." Once commodities have left U.S. ports, the program is entirely managed by the Russians. The loans and grants given out by the Commission should not, therefore, be referred to as "American loans." This structure has made it very difficult for the American side to have control or even influence on the execution and follow-up of these funded projects. If the U.S. is truly interested in seeing American assistance get out of Moscow and into the hands of the Russian private farmers and rural entrepreneurs who desperately need it, the American side will have to become more involved in the entire process. We have proposed a new, independent structure made up equally of representatives of Americans and Russians to oversee the commodity monetization and funding process. As is evident in your story, it is not enough to load the vessels at the American port and wave good-bye. Brian Foster Katherine Farley Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance Moscow and Saratov