The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has been awarded funding estimated at $4.5 million to be used in a revolving loan fund for poultry producers in Iraq. The funding comes through the Food for Progress program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Through this program, USGC will monetize 21,250 metric tons of corn and 8,750 tons of soybeans.

"This fund will provide collateral the basis for a system of short-term operating loans for the Iraqi poultry industry. Established Iraqi poultry producers will use these loans to cover the costs of purchasing production inputs, day old chicks, feed ingredients and medicines," said Paul Williams, USGC chairman and Washington Barley Commission representative. "By establishing this fund, we will further help accelerate the recovery of Iraq's poultry production to the 1989 levels. Currently Iraq is not eligible for U.S. credit guarantees under the GSM program and poultry producers lack credit and financing facilities and this fund will help alleviate that hurdle."

Iraq's poultry industry grew rapidly in the 1980s with per capita consumption at 13.75 kilograms of poultry meat and 111 eggs, based on production. The industry collapsed under the economic sanction of the 1990s when government subsidies were discontinued. With heavy government involvement, the industry had begun a modest recovery prior to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. While most of Iraq's poultry production capacity survived the 2003 Gulf War, the re-establishment of orderly markets for production inputs has severely hampered the growth and output of poultry production units.

"We expect that this credit fund will fuel rapid expansion of poultry meat and egg production that would not otherwise be possible," added Ken Hobbie, USGC president and CEO. "U.S. producers will benefit as new markets are developed for their grains, feeds and feed stuffs. This program will stimulate the rebuilding of a strong, steady commercial market for U.S. agricultural products to this country."

The Council has already started its work in Iraq with the establishment of the Iraqi Poultry Producers Association in 2004. A historical visit by these producers was made to the United States as the group came here to learn about advancements in poultry production. It is projected that Iraq will import 592,000 tons (27.2 million bushels) of corn and 355,000 tons (13 million bushels) of soybean meal in 2007.

Source: Association Release