Reuters, Scientific American, and National Public Radio all agree: the Midwest is the world’s breadbasket. Iowa and its neighbors produce staggering amounts of food. Food that finds its way onto dinner tables across every continent on Earth. Our farmers have come to rely on this global market for their livelihood. So, when that market is shaken, Iowa’s agricultural industry feels the tremors. At the Food Bank of Iowa, we feel it, too.

Trade disputes with China, Mexico, and other foreign markets have caused headaches for our farmers, but they’ve also resulted in some unusual deliveries to American food banks — products coming through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has labeled “trade mitigation.” Unprecedented quantities of pork and other foods have filled the shelves of food banks across the country, but the short-term benefits of these deliveries have left food bankers unsure about the future.

“The special deliveries of pork we’ve received are bittersweet,” said Michelle Book, president and CEO of the Food Bank. of Iowa. “Iowa pork is a nutritious food that will make a significant difference in the lives of our food insecure neighbors. However, ensuring that agriculture and Iowa farmers are strong is a better way to ensure a prosperous state, which will lead to long-term food insecurity solutions.”

Trade mitigation food arrives free from the government but comes with tangible handling and delivery costs. Running industrial coolers and freezers, forklifts, and refrigerated box trucks can be costly. In January, the Iowa Pork Producers Association stepped in to help Iowa’s food banks distribute this additional food to needy Iowans. With generous support from the IPPA, we know we’re all in this together.

“The purpose of a food purchase program is to help create demand for our commodities,”said IPPA President Gregg Hora of Fort Dodge. “We know this puts a strain on warehousing and distribution costs for food banks across Iowa. That’s why the Iowa Pork Producers Association is stepping in to provide $25,000 to help the food banks defray those costs.”