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.

Dry Bean Leaders Visit Capitol Hill

Members of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association and the North Central Bean Dealers were recently in Washington, D.C.

While there, they discussed the farm bill, agriculture trade and policy implications with Congressional delegates from Minnesota and North Dakota. Members also connected with USDA regarding bean procurement in the Food Aid Program.

Dry Bean Scene

Trade and farm bill implementation remain top policy priorities for agriculture. Senator John Hoeven hosted a roundtable discussion about those topics with North Dakota agriculture groups in Bismarck. Hear more in this week’s Dry Bean Scene on the Red River Farm Network, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.

USDBC to Study Cuba Market Opportunities in 2019

For the first time, the 2018 Farm Bill allows for the use of USDA Foreign Agricultural Service market promotion funding to conduct export development activities in Cuba. In the past, U.S. agricultural trade organizations have used private funding to promote trade with Cuba.

Despite the fact that many financial and banking restrictions remain in place, this is a win for U.S. agricultural trade. The U.S. Dry Bean Council will conduct an initial market scoping exercise in the second quarter of 2010, with the goal to put together a trade mission to the island in late 2019 or early 2020.

(Source: U.S. Dry Bean Council)

Providing Input into Farm Bill Implementation

USDA will host a Farm Bill listening session February 26, 2019 at 9 a.m. in Washington, D.C. The public is invited to offer input on the programs overseen by the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service. The three agencies are looking for ideas to simplify farm program implementation and improve customer service.

The listening session is in the Jefferson Auditorium in the South Building located at 14th Street and Independence Ave. S.W. in Washington, D.C.

The listening session is open to the public. Participants must register at by Feb. 22, 2019, to attend the listening session and are encouraged to provide written comments prior to the listening session. For those orally presenting comments at the listening session, written comments are encouraged to be submitted to by Feb. 22, 2019. Additional written comments will be accepted through March 1, 2019. Comments received will be publicly available on