WASHINGTON — A US Agency for International Development (USAID) Food for Peace donation of 28,000 tonnes of US soft white wheat underscored broad support for the program, organizations representing Pacific Northwest wheat growers said.
The US-flagged vessel “Liberty Glory,” loaded at the Port of Longview, Wash., on Aug. 15, is now bound for the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East to help alleviate a hunger emergency in the region.
US wheat farmers, US Wheat Associates (US Wheat), the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), and the North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) have been partners in US international food assistance programs for 70 years. Since 2020 more than 1 million tonnes of wheat and millions of dollars in food aid have been donated every year, the groups said.
They warned, however, that some government policy makers are seeking to cut program funding, and in July, US Wheat, NAWG, and NAMA sent a letter with 128 other organizations urging lawmakers to support international food aid programs. Full funding for Food for Peace and other US food assistance programs is critical to addressing the substantial humanitarian feeding needs around the world, the groups said.
Wheat growers and the milling industry also applauded the introduction of the American Farmers Feed the World Act in June. This legislation would “put the food back into food aid” by restoring Food for Peace to its roots as a purely in-kind commodity donation program and requiring that at least half of all Food for Peace funds be used to purchase American commodities and ship them overseas, minimizing administrative costs and restoring accountability and transparency.
“US millers are proud of the role they play in alleviating world hunger through food aid,” said Kim Cooper, senior director of government affairs for NAMA. “Today’s wheat shipment is a moving reminder of the need to both protect Food for Peace from harmful budget cuts and support the American Farmers Feed the World Act to ensure Food for Peace funding goes toward feeding as many people as possible in this time of unprecedented hunger.”
Nicole Berg, a Washington wheat farmer and past president of NAWG, said the recent wheat donation symbolizes their commitment to relieving hunger and fostering global food security.“During a journey to Kenya and Tanzania in 2019, I saw firsthand the effects of these life-changing programs and US commodities,” Ms. Berg said. “In testimony before Congress, I shared the story of a man I met there who emphasized his community is always so happy with the high quality of the US food and wheat flour they receive. NAWG encourages lawmakers to protect funding for Food for Peace and include the American Farmers Feed the World Act as part of the farm bill to help feed the world with high-quality American wheat and continue paving the way for excellence in food security and assistance.”