5 Ways Foreign Aid Benefits America’s Heartland

(StatePoint) While it may sound counterintuitive, foreign aid actually benefits average Americans in a number of ways, according to leaders in the Midwest, who say the global pandemic has only highlighted how interconnected we are.

“What happens beyond our country’s borders directly impacts us back home -- not just our health, but our security and prosperity as well,” says Dan Glickman, U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) senior advisor and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. “Through U.S. diplomacy and foreign aid programs, Americans are not just providing life-saving vaccines and literally helping feed the world, they’re also supporting American businesses and creating jobs here at home.”

USGLC, a bipartisan coalition of business, nongovernmental organizations, faith-based groups and veterans, recently hosted the Heartland Summit to highlight how foreign aid and America’s engagement in the world is critical to America’s Midwest and to American families. Here are some of the Summit’s big takeaways:

1. Foreign aid represents only 1% of the entire U.S. federal budget, and every $1 spent in foreign assistance saves $16 in response costs down the line. Making small, but smart investments today that match the global challenges affecting American’s health, economic, and safety interests, can save money down the road and help ensure a global crisis never spirals out of control again.

2. With one in five jobs in the Heartland depending on exports, the strength of local economies in the Midwest directly relies on stable export markets. That’s where foreign aid comes into play; 11 of the United States’ top 15 export markets are former recipients of U.S. foreign assistance. As a result of investments abroad, American agriculture and manufacturing can reach new customers and compete on the global stage. This supports farmers, creates jobs and helps local economies prosper.

3. With COVID variants surging and hunger, extreme poverty and instability on the rise, the global stakes couldn’t be higher for America’s health and economic recovery. The more than 1 billion COVID vaccine doses the United States is providing to other countries not only support thousands of local jobs, but also help ensure that variants around the world don’t spread, ultimately protecting American health and safety.

4. America’s top military leaders are often the first to advocate for investments in diplomacy and development programs, as they promote stability and help stop threats before they reach U.S. shores, reducing the need to put U.S. troops in harm’s way.

5. Foreign aid brings Americans together. Representing a rare space of bipartisanship, making an impact on communities in need demonstrates the compassion of the American people.

“The United States simply can’t ignore what happens outside our borders,” says Glickman. “Confronting global challenges can help ensure the health, safety, security and prosperity of American families.”

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