The U.S. wheat industry is currently urging administration and congressional leaders to ensure that the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust (BEHT) is replenished with wheat stocks, especially in view of escalating food aid needs.

The Bush administration announced last month that they would donate 200,000 tons of BEHT wheat to Sudan. In a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture on December 21, 2004, the three national wheat organizations - Wheat Export Trade Education Committee, U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers - supported the donation but also urged that commodities released from the Emerson Trust be replenished in a timely manner.

"Prompt replenishment of the wheat used will send a signal that the United States is serious about maintaining this program in a way that allows the U.S. to respond to emergency food needs when and where they occur," the group wrote. "Beyond reimbursement, the wheat industry strongly urges the Administration to support emergency appropriations to replenish stocks removed from the BEHT. We believe these commodities should be replenished in a timely manner once releases take place. The very tight constraints on the United States budget should not put this or other humanitarian programs at risk."

Over the last several weeks, in separate appeals to their Senators, the three national wheat organizations stated their support for increased food aid funding and reimbursement of the BEHT. They also urged the Senators to help replenish BEHT wheat stocks. "We strongly urge you to work closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure that the reimbursement includes replenishing the wheat stocks so we are prepared to meet future humanitarian needs."

On Dec. 9, 2004, the Emerson Trust held 1,415,349 metric tons (approximately 52 million bushels) of wheat and $87 million in funds. The Emerson Trust is authorized to hold up to 4 million metric tons of wheat, corn, rice and sorghum.

Source: Association Release