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Donated wheat reaches Middle East

U.S. Wheat Associates, the international marketing arm of the wheat industry, reports that the M/V Free Atlas, a cargo vessel carrying 28,000 metric tons of donated American wheat arrived at the Port of Aqaba on Wednesday.

The arrival of the M/V Free Atlas followed close behind the arrival of other shipments of donated American food to the Port of Umm Qasr in Iraq and the Port of Mersin in Turkey.

The M/V Free Atlas left Galveston, Texas April 4th, carrying wheat grown in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The wheat comes from the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust, an emergency reserve administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In March, President Bush authorized the immediate release of 200,000 metric tons of wheat from the Trust for the people of Iraq, with another 400,000 tons to be made available as needed. The wheat aboard the M/V Free Atlas is enough to feed 2.3 million Iraqis for one month.

The shipment aboard the M/V Free Atlas is only a portion of the total food aid the U.S. government is providing to the Iraqi people.

The M/V Yellow Rose arrived in Mersin, Turkey, on April 24, with 28,500 metric tons of U.S. hard winter wheat, and the M/V Rise arrived, also on Wednesday, at the Port of Umm Qasr in Iraq, with a cargo of locally procured rice from Pakistan. (The latter was purchased with the help of a grant to the World Food Program.)

In total, the United States is providing up to 590,000 metric tons of food worth $375 million to feed the people of Iraq. A total of $260 million is being provided to the U.N.’s World Food Program for food procurement, distribution and logistical support.

Upon arrival at the Port of Aqaba, WFP will take custody of the donated wheat for onward transport and distribution in Iraq. This partnership between the United States and the WFP is an example of the cooperation between the United States and various multilateral agencies in meeting the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people.

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