USDA and USAID to Deploy New Traceability and Commodity Tracking Systems

Hand holds scanner over QR codes on cardboard box
Making it easier to keep track
Mar 26, 2021
ARLINGTON, VA -- Food aid and commodity shipment is a complicated business involving multiple stakeholders.  There have long been concerns among stakeholders regarding improvement in the timing and quality of shipments from the U.S. to global destinations.  As part of a new initiative to address these concerns, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a new International Shipments End-to-End Visibility (E2E) system.  

The goal of the E2E system is to provide a “centralized repository and an integrated (end-to-end) view into the Status, Location, and Condition of all the international commodities through Inland, Port activities, and Vessel movements,” according to a recent statement from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).  This data will be provided in real-time in web-based supply chain management (WBSCM), and the goal is to have it fully deployed for 2021 food assistance commodity purchases.  

Separately, USAID is working on building a technology solution for improved supply chain visibility and commodity traceability.  This new initiative is being implemented in conjunction with MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory.  The goal is to strengthen supply chain management through a more digital and integrated system that will eventually become a Commodity Tracking System that will support, track, and trace commodity shipments.  While this is still very much in the works and at the beginning stages of stakeholder vetting and discussion, it will rely on enhanced real time technology such as QR codes.

USA Rice is following these developments and anticipates learning more about USAID’s Commodity Tracking System in the coming months as they announce new stakeholder workshops.  The USA Rice food aid team will be working to determine how this may impact future food aid business and will keep the industry informed.

"Traceability and systems integration are critical to the ongoing quality improvements to our food aid programs,” said Bobby Hanks, chair of the USA Rice Food Aid Subcommittee.  “While all of this is in the very early stages, we look forward to the ways this will enhance our food aid efforts going forward and to working with USAID, USDA and other stakeholders on the program rollout."

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