In light of the recent natural disaster in the Indian Ocean, the USA Rice Federation continues to consult with government, private volunteer organizations (PVOs) and congressional contacts to understand food aid requirements for the victims.
Disaster response teams are working under the guidance of the affected countries' national governments, and coordination between various groups will be difficult. There is disagreement even among the U.S. humanitarian community on what is the best intervention method and whom should perform what role.
As soon as distribution systems are in place, and as soon as the U.S. government knows which food items are locally available and which are critically needed, it will respond with food aid tenders.
The USA Rice Federation is in close contact with the U.S. Agency for International Development's Food for Peace Emergency Response Division and with various USDA offices in the countries affected. USA Rice has offered its assistance in the relief efforts, including suggestions for the use of U.S. rice in food aid programs. The industry has the stocks and infrastructure to respond quickly to any such requests.
The USA Rice Federation is also communicating with the World Food Program, the only international food organization able to start distributing food assistance and with major American food aid PVOs to let them know we are ready to join the effort with a quality, quick response. The director of Food for Peace told USA Rice that the U.S. government is awaiting the results of the assessments by various U.S. and United Nations teams before it makes new program requests.
Also, USA Rice has begun discussions with Congress regarding appropriations packages being considered to respond to this emergency and determining any aid opportunities suitable for U.S. rice.