USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday that the Obama Administration remains committed to pulling out all the stops for U.S. farmers and ranchers affected by the drought and followed up with an announced purchase of $170 million in meat products.
The purchase will include pork, poultry, lamb and fish. USDA hopes it will help producers having difficulty raising livestock in drought conditions. The meat purchases will go to the nation’s food banks, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other U.S. safety net programs that fight hunger.
“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’s intention is 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. 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.