"Today's allocations are part of our ongoing efforts to promote economic growth and address global hunger," Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman said. "The United States is the world's largest food aid donor and a leader in supporting market-oriented development.

“USDA provided over $500 million in international food assistance under our 2003 programs, and we hope to contribute a similar amount for 2004."

These Food for Progress allocations include more than 250,000 metric tons of U.S. wheat and flour, rice, vegetable oils, soybeans and soy products, corn, beans, peas and other commodities that will be purchased on the U.S. market and donated by USDA, she said.

The commodities will go to private voluntary organizations and the United Nations World Food Program primarily to support agricultural development projects.

Development projects, including infrastructure, training and micro-credit programs, are funded by sales of donated commodities within the recipient countries, the secretary said. In Afghanistan, for example, a new Afghan Agricultural Development Fund will assist emerging rural enterprises and producer-processor organizations.

“In Zambia, the Food for Progress donation will support micro-credit for farmers and rural businesses, while the program for Honduras will establish cooperative distribution systems and help small farmers diversify their crops.”

For each donation, detailed agreements must still be negotiated and will be announced as they are completed. In coming weeks, decisions will be made on additional FY 2004 Food for Progress donations to governments and private voluntary organizations, which will be funded by P.L. 480, Title I.

USDA also provides international food assistance through Section 416(b) of the Agricultural Act of 1949, and through the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program.

The Food for Progress Act of 1985 provides for USDA donations of agricultural commodities to developing countries and emerging democracies to encourage economic or agricultural reforms that foster free enterprise. A list of today's Food for Progress allocations is attached is available at www.usda.gov.

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