During this season of gratitude, we are giving thanks to America’s farmers and ranchers.
Not only do America’s strong federal farm policies ensure that we all have reliable access to affordable food, they also share our generous bounty with our neighbors.
Nicole Berg, a fourth-generation farmer from Washington State and Vice President of the National Association of Wheat Growers, recently joined Groundwork to talk about how rural America gives back all year round through food aid. Listen to the full episode here.
In the past 55 years, the U.S. has helped feed more than 4 billion people by purchasing crops from farmers here in the U.S. and sending it to countries dealing with poverty or other issues that makes reliable access to food hard to come by. In 2018 alone, the U.S. International Development Agency provided 2.5 million metric tons of in-kind food and locally sourced aid to communities around the world.
Wheat is a key staple and an integral part of America’s food aid programs.
“Whenever there’s a crisis, wheat growers try to step up to the plate and do what we can,” Berg said. “Whether it’s providing bulk food aid or trying to get some flour to those folks that really are in need and in stress.”
She pointed to the World Food Program’s donation of 50,000 tons of wheat flour to Lebanon as a recent example of how wheat aid can help during a crisis. The explosion in Beirut destroyed the silos used for grain storage.
Berg also shared her firsthand experience seeing how U.S. food aid programs are deployed on-the-ground during a trip to Tanzania and Kenya. Not only do these donations help feed the hungry, but they generate economic opportunity.
“[Food aid] is very important for those countries in need, and countries that experience these famine-type issues and food insecurity,” Berg said.
Here at home, America’s farmers and ranchers also make sure to care for their neighbors, both in times of crisis and stability.
The Oregon Wheat Foundation started their Bushels for Betsy program nearly 25 years ago to turn donations from wheat growers into baking mixes. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, wheat growers across the country have donated flour to food pantries and other aid programs.
“As farmers, we try to support and feed anybody in need… whether it’s locally or across the world,” Berg said.
As you sit down to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner this year, please take a moment to give thanks for the farmers and ranchers who made your meal possible and who are working hard to feed the world. It’s critical that Congress maintain strong federal farm policies and continue to support important in-kind food aid programs with a robust Farm Bill.
From our families to yours, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.