ARLINGTON, VA -- As the situation on the ground in Ukraine continues to deteriorate, USA Rice has been working to respond and offer assistance. In the first two weeks of the conflict, more than 2.5 million refugees have left their homes seeking safety in neighboring countries and in safer areas within Ukraine. The Ukrainian economy is in tatters and food production is almost completely offline. In the coming weeks, food insecurity will become a reality. Additionally, millions of refugees amassing in neighboring countries will create a sudden population surge that will also demand additional food supplies.
USA Rice got to work immediately in response, with initial outreach to the World Food Programme (WFP) as the first line of emergency feeding, emphasizing the availability of U.S.-origin rice to help the people of Ukraine, and also to the U.S. Department of Agriculture encouraging the use of U.S. commodities to be delivered to those in need.
Options for moving U.S. food into the federal government’s emergency response channels to Ukraine either through immediate procurement or by moving more rice into prepositioning warehouses with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance are being considered. USAID’s frontline response will be through their International Disaster Assistance (IDA) program which does not allow for the purchase of U.S. commodities.
“The scope of this disaster is too large to limit procurement of food,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward. “We are working to ensure that U.S. rice can be utilized in all emergency feeding programs in response to the crisis in Ukraine. USA Rice also has been in contact with our partners on Capitol Hill to stay up-to-date on Congressional actions regarding funding and assistance to Ukraine; and to remind lawmakers that the rice industry stands ready to assist however possible.”
Last week, Congress passed the Appropriations Omnibus Spending Bill, and alongside it, the Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act which included $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine. The supplemental funding provides an additional $100 million for Food for Peace Grants to address the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and the resulting supply chain and program disruptions, as well as $2.65 billion for USAID’s IDA program to provide emergency food assistance, health care, and other urgent support.
“The U.S. rice industry has been a longstanding partner of international food assistance programs,” said Ward. “We have communicated with our government and NGO partners that we stand ready to provide U.S. rice to assist the people of Ukraine and the surrounding region in these unprecedented times.”
If your organization has rice in Europe that could potentially be delivered to Ukraine, or if you would like to register as a World Food Programme (WFP) vendor, please contact USA Rice