USDA gains $50 million in food aid from surplus commodities barter
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will donate about $50 million worth of government-owned bulk commodities to U.S. food processors in exchange for further processed agricultural products that would be distributed as domestic and international food aid.
“Bartering government-owned corn, cotton, soybeans and wheat for processed products like vegetable oil and flour as well as meat products, will help us meet an increasing demand for food assistance,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns in a statement.
According to the USDA, the uncommitted commodities were acquired through forfeiture under the Marketing Assistance Loan Program. If additional commodities are forfeited, they could be distributed through the same process.
The USDA said the barter initiative will save taxpayers money by reducing government costs while opening storage space for 2007 crops.
Domestic food assistance programs will receive 80 percent of the value of the commodities that are stored by the USDA. The remainder will be used in the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, which provides donations of U.S. agricultural products, as well as financial and technical help, for school feeding and maternal and child nutrition projects in low-income countries.
The USDA said it will begin exchanging the government-owned commodities for further processing in the next few weeks. Product delivery to U.S. food assistance recipients is expected to begin this fall.