United States to give $3.5 billion for food aid

The United States will spend $3.5 billion in the next three years to boost food sufficiency in developing countries.

James Miller, undersecretary in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said Aug. 4 at the International Food Aid Conference in Kansas City, Mo., that the USDA, the U.S. Agency for International Development and non-governmental organizations in the targeted countries will be involved in rolling out the plan. Miller's announcement was a development of the "Feed the Future" food security assistance program, which is a response by the Obama administration to the July 2009 G8 Summit in L'Aquila, Italy, where rich countries pledged contributions of up to $18.5 billion to fight hunger.

The steep rise in global food prices in 2007 and 2008 alerted the world to food insecurity as rioters in cities across Africa, the Middle East and eastern Europe staged street protests.

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Miller said also that the bumper wheat harvest in the United States this year will stabilize prices of the important grain. A severe drought in wheat-producing countries of eastern Europe and raging wildfires in Russia have sent wheat prices soaring in the past two months on fears of a global shortage. Russia could ban exports of wheat.

Miller said the shortage is good news for U.S. farmers who stand to earn a higher price for their crop. "We'll continue to see the volatility until harvesting in the Northern Hemisphere currently underway is concluded," Miller said. He added that there is little likelihood tht the shortage situation will escalate to a level similar to 2008. "The difference here is that in 2008 the shortage cut across a broad range of commodities."

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