29 April 2022, US: Today, the Biden Administration announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are taking the extraordinary step to draw down the full balance of the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust (BEHT) as part of an effort to provide $670 million in food assistance to countries in need as a result of Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The world is suffering from historic levels of global food insecurity, which is being exacerbated by the impact Russia’s war on Ukraine is having on global food supplies. Available estimates suggest an additional 40 million people could be pushed into poverty and food security as a result of Russia’s aggression.
USAID will use the BEHT’s $282 million to procure U.S. food commodities to bolster existing emergency food operations in six countries facing severe food insecurity: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Yemen. USDA will provide $388 million in additional funding through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to cover ocean freight transportation, inland transport, internal transport, shipping and handling, and other associated costs.
“Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine, a fellow major agricultural export country, is driving food and energy costs higher for people around the world,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “America’s farmers, ranchers and producers are uniquely positioned through their productivity, and through the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust, to help directly feed those around the world impacted by these challenges.”
“In Ukraine, which provides 10 percent of the world’s wheat, farmers are struggling to plant and harvest their crops for fear of shelling and Russian landmines, and their path to exporting these vital commodities is severely restricted by Russia’s invasion, which caused the closure of Ukraine’s ports,” said USAID Administrator Samantha Power. “Putin’s decision to wage a senseless and brutal war against a peaceful neighbor is leading to a staggering global food crisis. Today’s drawdown of the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust will help us respond to the unprecedented needs in countries around the world that are facing historic food insecurity.”
The BEHT is a special authority that was renamed for U.S. Congressman Bill Emerson in 1998 and reauthorized in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the Farm Bill, that enables USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) to respond to unanticipated food crises abroad when other resources are not available. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture will authorize the release of funds from the BEHT to provide emergency food assistance if the USAID Administrator determines that funds available for emergency needs under title II of the Food for Peace Act for a fiscal year are insufficient to meet emergency needs during the fiscal year.
This is the first time since 2014 that the U.S. government has used this emergency funding authority.
USDA and USAID are committed to working closely to leverage all available resources to mitigate the worst impacts of this food security crisis.