Washington to cut FAO funding by dlrs 30 million
ROME – The United States has told the Food and Agriculture Organisation it will slash its funding of the UN agency by some 20 percent, or some dlrs 32 million, FAO sources say.
The cuts have not been announced officially but FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva has informed departmental directors of the upcoming measure in order to brace them for potential draconian budget reductions, the sources told Italian insider. In all the United States donates some dlrs 161 million to FAO, meaning that it is its largest donor by far.
US Congressmen have been increasingly concerned by what they see as the FAO’s discrimination against US professional staff under the Brazilian Graziano's stewardship and a crackdown on whistleblowers at the UN agency as well as efforts by Graziano to silence reporting of the FAO by the Italian Insider. Graziano's decision to hire former Peruvian first lady Nadine Heredia as head of the FAO liason office in Geneva while she was under investigation for alleged massive money laundering raised further questions about the quality of his leadership at the Rome-based agency. Ms Heredia began an 18 month period of pre-trial detention in Lima earlier this week together with her husband.
The Trump administration said earlier this year that several United Nations agencies that are among the biggest recipients of U.S. taxpayer dollars have given leadership positions to U.S.-designated state sponsors of terrorism and countries with poor records on human rights and religious freedoms and would face cuts in US funding as a result.
The 49-member FAO Council includes U.S.-designated terror-sponsor Sudan as well as 11 other countries ranked as “not free” by Freedom House. The Council currently includes “not free” Afghanistan, Algeria, Cameroon, China, Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Qatar, Russia and Saudi Arabia – as well as Sudan, both “not free” and a U.S.-designated terror-sponsor.
Graziano met with US acting Deputy Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, Jason Hafemeister on the sidelines of the FAO Conference this month.
"FAO is a proud partner of the US and ready to pursue the US ambitions in agriculture," Graziano said, according to the FAO website.
The remark was typical of recent efforts by the Brazilian hungercrat to mend fences with Washington including a pledge to hire more Americans but is seen by observers as a case of "too little, too late."