U.S. wheat industry representatives traveled to Kansas City, Mo., to participate in the annual International Food Aid and Development Conference (IFADC).

The conference, hosted by USDA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), offers a unique opportunity for stakeholders from across the international aid and development community to gather and share information and experiences.

This year, nearly 550 people registered to participate in the conference.

Wheat industry representatives from Idaho, South Dakota, Washington, Kansas and Oklahoma met with individuals from nongovernmental and private voluntary organizations, U.S. government officials and others who share the same goal of eliminating world hunger.

U.S. wheat farmers are proud of their role in helping feed the world. U.S. wheat from every region is used in both emergency and non-emergency food aid programs. The Food for Peace and Food for Progress programs, administered by USAID and USDA, respectively, utilize U.S. wheat in emergencies or as a source for long-term development project funding through the sale of U.S. wheat (referred to as monetization).

Wheat has long been the leading commodity used in U.S. food aid programs. In fiscal year 2010, 894,000 metric tons (MT) of U.S. wheat was purchased and used across three international assistance programs. Of that volume, 25 percent was monetized for development projects and the remaining went toward emergency feeding and school lunch programs.

Yet, this volume was significantly less than in fiscal year 2009, when 963,000 MT of wheat was donated for emergency and non-emergency use. In fact, even though hunger persists throughout the world, donated U.S. wheat quantities have steadily declined since 2000.

Recipients around the world — from Bangladesh to Niger to Honduras and many more countries — benefit from these important programs and the wheat they receive.

For example, a recent development project funded through wheat monetization in Mozambique provided money to construct a university in a disadvantaged rural area. This successful monetization project also contributed funds for 180 student scholarships.

The pressure on international aid programs from reduced funding has been a concern for several years. Especially in this time of volatile prices, it is imperative that the resources exist to assist those who are most susceptible to food insecurity.

The U.S. wheat industry supports full funding of these important programs to continue providing much-needed food and resources to the world’s neediest populations.