Bush proposes $770 million in new U.S. food aid

President George W. Bush on Thursday called for the United States to offer $770 million (390 million pounds) in new global food aid in an effort to stem rising food prices threatening to spread social unrest in the developing world, according to Reuters.

Bush, who has expressed concern at the deepening global food crisis which has triggered turmoil in poor countries, said he wanted to send a clear message that the United States would lead in addressing this problem.

"With the new international funding I'm announcing today we're sending a clear message to the world that America will lead the fight against hunger for years to come," Bush said.

Sky-rocketing prices for wheat and other staples, along with record-high fuel prices, have eaten into aid budgets in the United States, the world's largest food aid donor, as hunger becomes a growing problem in the developing world.

"I think more needs to be done and so today I'm asking Congress to provide an additional $770 million to support food aid and development programs," Bush told reporters at the White House as he unveiled a supplemental budget request for fiscal 2009 that would require congressional approval.

Bush's announcement came just two days after he expressed deep concern about the global food crisis. Details on how the new aid money would be spent were not released.

U.S. lawmakers and international aid groups have urged the administration to do more to help blunt the toll of surging food prices on the world's poor.

Protests, strikes and riots have erupted in developing countries around the world in the wake of dramatic rises in the prices of wheat, rice, corn, oils and other essential foods that have made it difficult for poor people to make ends meet.

Bush's budget request for new food aid would be in addition to $200 million approved by Bush last month through the release of 250,000 tonnes of wheat from an emergency crop trust, a step the United States had not taken since 2005.

The United States typically provides about $1.6 billion to $1.7 billion in food aid each year through the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The administration has already requested supplemental food aid funding, a perennial addition to annual budget funds, of $350 million for fiscal 2008.

"America is in the lead, we'll stay in the lead and we expect others to participate along with us," Bush said. "We're working with our G8 partners and other developed nations to secure commitments from their governments for additional food aid."

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