On Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee heard from agriculture, maritime, and manufacturing stakeholders voicing their concerns over the next farm bill and the future of international food aid and agricultural development.
On behalf of the wheat industry, Mr. Ron Suppes, a wheat grower from Dighton, Kansas, testified on food aid and a recent trip to Tanzania where he saw programs that utilized wheat.
“In Tanzania, I saw firsthand how wheat farmers can play a significant role in international food aid programs,” Suppes said. “These programs involve a significant amount of wheat, a fact not lost on farmers with full grain bins and more wheat piled on the ground from last year’s historically high harvest. It is a year when the U.S. needs to be a world leader in helping provide for those in need with these ample supplies.
“Food aid can also generate goodwill with other countries. By encouraging agricultural development in Tanzania, we’re ultimately spurring economic growth, which means Tanzania is more likely to be a stronger trading partner in the future. And the tangible presence of U.S. wheat in that equation is a symbol that cash can’t match.
“U.S. commodities play a key role in helping regions unable to produce wheat and other commodities on their own due to drought, conflict or other circumstances. We have enough surplus that no one should be going hungry.
“I commend the House Committee on Agriculture recognizing and highlighting the valuable role that the agricultural industry plays in international food aid.”
Following the hearing, Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) remarked:
“Americans are big-hearted people and eliminating food aid programs goes against our country’s longstanding philanthropic commitment. For the past 60 years, U.S. foreign assistance has benefitted millions around the world in the form of rice, wheat, and other U.S.-grown commodities. Unlike cash-based assistance, sending commodities overseas through international food aid programs not only benefits recipients, but also contributes to jobs in the U.S. agricultural, manufacturing and maritime sectors – underscoring the role these programs play in an ‘America-first’ approach to helping others. I continue to believe there is an important place for these programs, and I appreciate the input from our witnesses today.”