(Washington, D.C.) Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (WA-05) announced today that the USDA is committed to purchasing 241,500 metric tons of Pacific Northwest Soft White Wheat for Food Aid programs. There is also potential for an additional 174,000 metric tons to be purchased, bringing the total to over 400,000 metric tons. These Food Aid purchases will help support Soft White Wheat prices.
“I am encouraged that USDA is finding ways to help the Pacific Northwest during these challenging times, although I am disappointed that they have been unable to come up with a system to make counter cyclical payments work better for soft white wheat growers,” said McMorris. “This is not the end of our efforts and we will continue to work towards solutions to ensure our farmers remain productive and competitive.”
USDA typically buys soft white wheat to donate through our Food Aid programs. Included in the FY07 budget is a request for $1.378 billion of budget authority for USDA's international programs, most of which — $1.218 billion — will go for foreign food donations.
“Purchasing our region’s wheat for Food Aid will help both our local farmers and impoverished nations around the world,” continued McMorris. “As Americans we are very blessed to live in a country which has the means to help millions of people around the world who are struggling to survive.”
After enactment of the 2002 Farm Bill, USDA announced the most comprehensive adjustments in more than 15 years to the county loan rate structure for 2002 wheat crops. The restructured loan rates have adversely affected wheat growers in the Pacific Northwest. McMorris has joined with Senator Murray and the Washington Wheat Growers to find a solution to counter-cyclical payments and restore the intended safety net provision.