The USDA today announced that it will donate 21,250 metric tons of corn and 8,750 tons of soybean meal to the U.S. Grains Council, a private organization, for use in Iraq.

"Agriculture is vital to the Iraqi economy and this donation will help to revitalize their agriculture sector as an engine of economic growth," says Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. "We are very pleased that USDA's food for progress program will help to improve the quality of life available to the Iraqi people."

The U.S. Grains Council will sell the corn and soybean meal and use the proceeds to help revitalize the Iraqi poultry industry. The Council's program will provide a revolving loan fund for poultry producers, training in credit fund management and trade capacity building for the Iraqi Poultry Producers Association.

The donation will be made under USDA's Food for Progress program, administered by the Foreign Agricultural Service. The supply period for this donation is fiscal year 2005.

The Food for Progress program provides for USDA donations of agricultural commodities to needy countries to encourage economic or agricultural reforms that foster free enterprise. This year, USDA expects to donate approximately 525,000 tons of U.S. commodities to 30 countries under Food for Progress.