FACG Summer Meeting Reveals New Food Assistance Priorities

The U.S. Dry Bean Council (USDBC) participated in the summer meeting of the Food Aid Consultative Group (FACG). FACG is a public/private forum mandated in the farm bill to provide a platform for U.S. government agencies to interact with private sector counterparts including Private Voluntary Organizations, agricultural trade groups and Maritime on food assistance priorities. This was the first meeting under the Biden Administration.
While several ongoing humanitarian crises will continue to receive significant attention, there were several new initiatives introduced to the agricultural trade community that hint at a change in resource allocation. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant effect on global food assistance programming, and several new concerns were outlined that will likely impact future food assistance programming for the foreseeable future.
The dire food security outlook in Yemen will remain a top food aid priority as the situation is now compounded by COVID. Officials from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also outlined new funding allocations and priority assistance for the people of Tigray, Ethiopia in response to civil conflict and a severe humanitarian crisis.
Another priority area of focus in the coming year will be food assistance to Madagascar, as southern Madagascar is on the verge of a famine due to a severe drought impacting over a million people.
Two new areas outlined during the meeting include ongoing concerns regarding the price volatility of commodities used in food aid, and the need to provide new funding to food assistance programs in the Golden Triangle of Central America (Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador) as part of the Administration’s Immigration reform initiative.
USDBC anticipates a strong need for all U.S. agricultural commodities, including dry beans. While beans have not been shipped to Yemen for food assistance as anticipated, the organization hopes to see a return to beans in the food aid basket for Yemen in second half 2021. USDBC has continued to work with USDA, USAID and other food assistance staff to continue to promote the use of dry beans in global food aid programs.