The Hutchinson News Editorial — Moran right-on with call to direct grain to food aid

August 23, 2016

Kansas is not only the breadbasket of the nation but of the world – especially this year with huge surpluses of grain overflowing from elevators and being stored on the ground.

Given these conditions, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas is calling on Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and USAID Administrator Gayle Smith to dial up exports of wheat for food aid to impoverished parts of the globe.

“I’m hopeful we can utilize the current abundance of wheat stocks to provide even greater assistance to those in need to reduce food insecurity and support wheat farmers in Kansas and across the country,” Moran said Wednesday.

This is a timely consideration. When the U.S. is enjoying an abundance of grain production is especially when we should redirect it to places suffering from shortages. Besides sharing our abundance to help feed the rest of the world, such management of grain supplies should bolster prices for our wheat growers, who in Kansas are up against rock-bottom prices offsetting this year’s bountiful yields.

“The current abundance of wheat stocks offers an opportunity to provide even greater assistance to those in need through increased shipments of wheat,” Moran wrote in his letter to Vilsack and Smith. “During the procurement process for in-kind commodity donations in the future, I encourage you to prioritize the utilization of wheat to help those in need.”

Wheat from the U.S., including Kansas, historically has been a critical component in food aid targeted to alleviate global hunger, Moran said. “It is the most consumed commodity worldwide, making up 20 percent of the calories and 20 percent of the protein consumed by the world’s poorest.”

In-kind aid in the form of excess commodities is a commonsense solution to U.S. overproduction and fulfillment of our duty to provide aid to the world’s hungry population. The timing of Moran’s statement of support for this policy couldn’t be more relevant.

It makes far more sense to manage supply and demand of America’s agricultural production in this constructive way than by programs that discourage farmers not to plant.

Moran deserves thanks for elevating this notion at this most appropriate time.

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