USDA food aid in 1999 is most in 25 years
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will ship approximately 8.5 million metric tons of U.S. commodities under fiscal 1999 food aid programs, more than five times last year's 1.6 million tons, and the largest tonnage in at least 25 years.
"American food aid helps relieve hunger and suffering around the world," said Glickman. "It also helps American farmers dealing with tremendous oversupply and weak markets."
This year's increased food donations are due in large part to President Clinton's initiative to purchase 5 million tons of U.S. wheat, which was then made available for overseas donation.
U.S. commodities are being shipped to about 50 countries this year under USDA donation and concessional sales programs. This includes significant food relief for Kosovar refugees and hurricane victims in Central America and the Caribbean, USDA's first agreement providing food aid to North Korea, and the first USDA food aid shipments to Vietnam since before the Vietnam War.
Shipments of U.S. wheat and wheat products are increasing from 1 million metric tons last year to 5.9 million this year. Shipments of other commodities are also increasing, with corn rising from 10,000 to about 850,000 tons, soybean meal and soybeans more than quadrupling from 174,000 to 789,000 tons, and rice jumping more than 600 percent from 55,000 to 390,000 tons.
Regionally, USDA food aid to needy countries in Africa is increasing from 291,000 tons in fiscal 1998 to an estimated 473,000 tons for fiscal 1999. Expected shipments to Asia are up tenfold, from 300,000 tons last year to about 3.3 million for fiscal 1999, much of it in response to the financial crisis in Indonesia and other Asian nations. Major recipients of USDA food aid this fiscal year include Russia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, North Korea, Jordan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, the Balkans region, Armenia, Georgia, and Tajikistan.
USDA's food aid activities are closely coordinated with the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. agricultural groups, and the World Food Program. Including commodities procured by USDA for fiscal 1999 USAID programs, total U.S. government food aid shipments are expected to reach nearly 10 million metric tons by December.