Update. The African Famine

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

The Cargo Preference Amendment: Famine relief agencies are keeping a wary eye on this rider to pending Senate farm legislation. The cargo amendment would increase from 50 percent to 75 percent the amount of food exports required to be carried in US ships. The increase would be phased in over a three-year period beginning in 1986, and boost the US maritime industry.

Many private relief organizations say they're concerned that new maritime susbsidies could increase the costs or reduce the amount of farm commodities available for shipment to Africa.

But supporters of the amendment say any increased costs would be subsidized by the Department of Transportation and thus would not affect the flow of farm commodities to alleviate the African famine. The farm bill carrying the cargo preference amendment is being debated in the Senate this week. If the bill loses, or if its high price tag triggers a presidential veto, supporters of the amendment say they'll look for another way to enact the cargo preference measure.

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Compact for African Development: One of two important studies that will be vehicles for major public-education and legislative initiatives next year. The development study, scheduled for release Dec. 2, reports on long-term population, environmental, and economic factors underlying the current African crisis.

Proposal on African Recovery and Development: This second study is being carried out by Interaction, a consortium of over 100 private relief agencies. It draws on recent reports from the Office of Technology Assessment, the World Bank, and the ODC/CFR ``Compact'' -- plus their own collective experience in the field -- to provide comprehensive legislative proposals to deal with the Africa crisis.

The report will focus on developing more flexible, long-term funding arrangements to help finance small-scale agriculture, environmental rehabilitation, primary health care, population planning, and human resource development.

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