Wheat Groups Welcome New Funding

Kansas Wheat joins U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) in thanking U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for announcing new USDA funding which will increase global food assistance and expand global market access for wheat growers. The additional monies, drawn from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), supplement proven Farm Bill programs currently up for reauthorization.

“Kansas wheat farmers have championed keeping the food in U.S. food aid and international market development programs since these programs began,” said Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin. “These programs expand efforts of trade promotion and U.S. wheat exports, and position the U.S. as a global leader to provide food assistance for emerging crisis situations and addressing food security needs.”

Food Assistance

Peter O’Brien, a young farmer and rancher from Cheyenne County, first suggested donating grain to countries in need during a county meeting in September 1953. Those comments sparked a grassroots movement, leading to the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act in 1954, sponsored by U.S. Senator Andrew Schoeppel and signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower – both Kansans.

The pillar of today’s modern food aid programs was a common goal: provide people in developing countries with a secure food source, and they will do more than survive. As their economies recover and thrive, they become new potential buyers of U.S. exports. Through the USDA’s Food for Progress and USAID Food for Peace programs, the American people have donated more than one million metric tons of wheat annually for the past three years.

According to this week’s announcement, USDA will utilize $1 billion from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to bolster international food aid efforts in addressing hunger caused by conflict, droughts and other challenges.

“Additional funding for food assistance programs will help address the most urgent humanitarian needs in a generation. USW and NAWG look forward to working with USDA and other partners to ensure additional food donations generate the most benefit where it is needed most,” said NAWG President Brent Cheyne. “As NAWG works with Congress to reauthorize the Farm Bill, we continue to advocate for strengthening the in-kind commodity donation program and additional investments in the existing trade promotion programs.”

Export Market Development

Investment in export market development starts at the combine. The Kansas Wheat Commission is funded by a two-cent per bushel, voluntary assessment on each bushel of wheat grown in Kansas and sold to a Kansas grain elevator. The Kansas Wheat Commission uses those funds to invest in agronomic research projects, consumer outreach and supporting agricultural export market development as a contributing member of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW). Checkoff contributions qualify USW to apply for matching funds through programs like the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program.

Under U.S. farm legislation, Congress apportions funding for MAP, FMD and other export programs. Annual funding for MAP has not changed from $200 million since 2006, and annual FMD funding of $34.5 million has not changed since 2002, yet other countries have significantly ramped up their export promotion spending.

A positive development came in 2019 with the establishment of the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program, which worked to ease the effects of trade retaliation against U.S. farmers and exporters. Those funds originated from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) awarded grants to almost 60 cooperating organizations to be invested by 2024, including USW.

As that funding expires next year, USDA’s announcement this week included a $1.3 billion investment in a Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP). This program will provide targeted technical assistance for exporters to break into new markets and increase market share in growth markets.

“USW demonstrated that the additional funding helped us protect crucial wheat export sales in established markets and build a base for growth in new markets,” said USW Chairman and Oklahoma wheat farmer Michael Peters. “We appreciate the introduction of the new RAPP), and the USW team will work very hard to use it effectively. Looking ahead, global wheat trade is increasingly competitive and market development takes time and consistency. That’s why we believe that in the long-term, increases for established Farm Bill export development programs are the best way forward.”