USDA will donate about $50 million worth of government-owned bulk commodities to U.S. food processors in exchange for further processed agricultural products that will be distributed through domestic and international food assistance programs.

“This is a win for all parties, especially low-income, needy people in this country and around the world who receive U.S. food assistance,” Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said. “Bartering government-owned corn, cotton, soybeans and wheat for processed products like vegetable oil and flour as well as meat products, will help us meet an increasing demand for food assistance.”

The uncommitted commodities were acquired through forfeiture under the Marketing Assistance Loan Program. If additional commodities are forfeited, they could be distributed through the same process.

The barter initiative will provide benefits to those in need both domestically and internationally, and it will save taxpayers’ dollars by reducing government costs while enhancing storage space available for 2007 crops, according to USDA.

Domestic food assistance programs will receive 80 percent of the value of the commodities that are stored by USDA. This initiative will provide additional commodities to food banks and other entities to help meet food assistance needs. The remainder will be used in the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program.

The McGovern-Dole Program helps promote education, child development and food security for some of the world’s poorest children. It provides for donations of U.S. agricultural products, as well as financial and technical assistance, for school feeding and maternal and child nutrition projects in low-income countries.

USDA will begin exchanging the government-owned commodities for further processed products in the next few weeks. Product delivery to U.S. food assistance recipients is expected to start in the fall.