President George Bush has urged the US Congress to approve $770m US (€498m) to help ease soaring food prices that threaten widespread hunger and increasing social unrest around the world.
In a surprise appearance at the White House, Mr Bush announced he was asking Congress to approve the additional funds for global food aid and development programmes.
The money – to be directed primarily at needy African nations – is being included in a broader £35bn (€23bn) Iraq war funding measure for 2009 that the White House sent to Congress yesterday.
“In some of the world’s poorest nations, rising prices can mean the difference between getting a daily meal and going without food,” Mr Bush said.
“The American people are generous people and they’re a compassionate people. We believe in the timeless truth ’to whom much is given, much is expected’.”
The new money comes on top of £100m (€65m) Mr Bush ordered to be released two weeks ago for emergency food aid. It also is in addition to a pending £175m (€113m) request for emergency food aid funds. Because the new funds are part of a 2009 budget, they would not be available for distribution until the start of the fiscal year on October 1, even if they were approved sooner.