Well, maybe not the final word, but one more thing anyway, from a Bloomberg article:
Shipments of U.S. food aid took five months to reach Ethiopia during a famine in 1999-2000, arriving after the death toll had reached 20,000, according to Chris Barrett, an economics professor at Cornell University who specializes in food aid to Africa.
By contrast, Catholic Relief Services of Baltimore said it got emergency food supplies to Malawi and Zimbabwe within 30 to 60 days in 2005. The difference was that the agency bought $2.6 million of peas, vegetable oil, maize and high-energy protein supplement in Mozambique and Zambia.
Aid groups, President George W. Bush and the U.S. Government Accountability Office all say the U.S. approach to food aid needs to be fixed. The U.S. donates almost half the food used for international aid, worth about $2 billion in 2007. Efforts to get it to such places as Myanmar, China and Africa are hostage to 50- year-old policies that favor agricultural giants such as Archer- Daniels-Midland Co. and Cargill Inc. and shippers such as Maersk.
``This is a cumbersome process that ends up costing lives,'' said Marc Cohen, a food aid expert at the International Food Policy Research Institute, which is funded by the World Bank and over 20 governments. ``Buying food locally could cut the months into weeks.''
Congress took a step toward changing the system by including a $60 million pilot program in the $289 billion farm bill passed last week. The measure would shift part of the food aid budget to buying commodities nearer the point of need. The bill appears to have enough Congressional support to override a veto promised by Bush because he says it wouldn't do enough to reduce subsidies to farmers who are benefiting from increased prices.
So the problem with sending U.S. food directly is not just the harm to local producers; it's also the extra time involved in getting it there.