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USAID requests grain release from Emerson Trust for Southern Africa Drought Relief

News and Press Release
Originally published

The U.S. Agency for International Development has requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture release 275,000 metric tons of wheat from the Emerson Trust. The wheat released from the trust will be exchanged for an equal value of corn, beans, and vegetable oil, to reduce the suffering of people affected by the drought in Southern Africa.

The action is based on the recommendation of the Food Assistance Policy Council, an interagency council charged with responding to the Southern Africa Complex Food Security Crisis. The request is justified because sufficient food commodities cannot be procured under normal procedures due to the unanticipated scale of the emergency.

What is the Emerson Trust?

The Emerson Trust is a food reserve administered under the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture. Up to 4 million tons of wheat, corn, sorghum, and rice can be kept in reserve. There is currently 2.5 million tons of wheat in the reserve.

The Africa Seeds of Hope Act of 1998 (Act) amended Title III of the Agricultural Act of 1980 by replacing the Food Security Commodity Reserve and its predecessor, the Food Security Wheat Reserve, with the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust.

Guidelines for Release

The Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to release up to 500,000 metric tons for urgent humanitarian relief in disasters, in the case of unanticipated need. An additional 500,000 metric tons of eligible commodities can be released if no release was made in the previous year. The Secretary is also authorized to release eligible commodities if he determines that purchases of food assistance under PL 480 would create undue price pressures because of limited supplies on the U.S. market.

Guidelines for Replenishment and Reimbursement

The 1998 Act allows for the retention and use of funds from PL 480 reimbursements to purchase grain to replace supplies released from the reserve. Reimbursement to the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) for ocean freight and related non-commodity costs occurs through the regular USDA appropriations process. Budget authority is requested to restore CCC's expenditures on ocean freight and non-commodity costs through USDA's annual budget submission to Congress.

Contact: USAID Press Office

(202) 712-4320