At the International Food Aid Conference in Kansas City on Wednesday, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer announced that more than $100 million will be donated by USDA in a swap of surplus government raw commodity stocks for domestic and international food. The donation, which will benefit more than 700,000 children internationally through the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, is part of the USDA's "Stocks-for-Food" initiative.
"We all face a serious concern in the challenge to obtain much-needed food for hungry people at home and abroad," Schafer says. "Processing, packaging and transportation costs add to three-fourths of food costs, while the price farmers receive at harvest is a much smaller factor. USDA has harnessed the increased value that the commodity markets place on the farmer's harvest with an initiative to help reduce the shortfalls in food donations."
The "Stocks-for-Food" program was started last July as a way to draw on the value of raw commodities to bolster donations to food banks and U.S. international food aid programs, while eliminating storage costs to the government for raw commodities that have been forfeited in lieu of payment of marketing assistance loans.
To date, USDA has bartered 1 million bushels of corn, 1 million bushels of soybeans, 7.3 million bushels of wheat, 456 tons of peanuts, 1,987 hundredweight of rice, and 79,329 bales of cotton.