WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2012 –In an effort to help livestock producers who have been hard-hit by drought conditions, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced USDA’s intent to purchase up to $170 million of pork, lamb, chicken, and catfish for federal food nutrition assistance programs, including food banks.
Secretary Vilsack is accompanying President Barack Obama during a three-day campaign trip across drought-stricken Iowa.
According to USDA, the purchase will help relieve pressure on American livestock producers during the drought, while helping to bring the nation’s meat supply in line with demand while providing high quality, nutritious food to recipients of USDA’s nutrition programs.
“President Obama and I will continue to take swift action to get help to America’s farmers and ranchers through this difficult time,” said Vilsack. “These purchases will assist pork, catfish, chicken and lamb producers who are currently struggling due to challenging market conditions and the high cost of feed resulting from the widespread drought. The purchases will help mitigate further downward prices, stabilize market conditions, and provide high quality, nutritious food to recipients of USDA’s nutrition programs.”
USDA announced its intention to purchase up to $100 million of pork products, up to $10 million of catfish products, up to $50 million in chicken products, and up to $10 million of lamb products for federal food nutrition assistance programs, including food banks. Through the Emergency Surplus Removal Program, USDA can use Section 32 funds to purchase meat and poultry products to assist farmers and ranchers who have been affected by natural disasters. The pork, lamb and catfish purchases are based on analyses of current market conditions. A major factor affecting livestock producers is the value of feed, which is currently running high because of the drought.
During the 2012 crop year, USDA has designated 1,628 unduplicated counties across 33 states as disaster areas—1,496 due to drought—making all qualified farm operators in the areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans.
Visit www.usda.gov/drought for the latest information regarding USDA’s drought response and assistance.
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