"These purchases were requested by industry groups," USDA spokesman says...
Ahead of President Obama's newly scheduled visit to a farm in Iowa's Missouri Valley on Monday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new purchase of meat to help livestock producers impacted by the drought. The purchase, which will be "up to" $170 million of chicken, catfish, lamb and pork, will be completed within this fiscal year, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service spokesman Samuel Jones told Obama Foodorama.
USDA cited rising feed prices as a reason for the purchase: "A major factor affecting livestock producers is the value of feed, which is currently running high because of the drought," USDA said in a news release. The meat will be used in federal nutrition programs, including food banks.
Pork gets the biggest benefit: USDA will purchase $100 million of pork products, up to $10 million of catfish products, up to $50 million in chicken products, and up to $10 million in lamb. No beef is currently scheduled for purchase.
"These purchases were requested by industry groups," Jones said.
When asked if purchases would be made from livestock producers in the states that have been most impacted by the drought, Jones said no information was available.
"We would not have information on which states the purchases will be made from at this time," Jones said. "All qualified vendors can sell various commodity products to the USDA."
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service will determine which federal nutrition programs ultimately receive the meat, Jones said.
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USDA's news release:
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Meat Purchase to Assist Livestock Producers Impacted by Drought; Bolster Federal Nutrition Programs
WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2012 – As part of the Obama Administration's commitment to do everything it can to help farmers, ranchers, small businesses, and communities being impacted by the nation's persistent drought, 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. 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."
Today, 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.
USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) purchases a variety of high-quality food products each year to support the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and the Emergency Food Assistance Program. USDA also makes emergency food purchases for distribution to victims of natural disasters. Government food experts work to ensure that all purchased food is healthful and nutritious. Food items are required to be low in fat, sugar and sodium. The commodities must meet specified requirements and be certified to ensure quality. AMS purchases only products of 100 percent domestic origin.
Last week in Washington, President Obama convened his White House Rural Council to review Executive Branch response actions and to develop additional policy initiatives to assist drought-stricken Americans. Following the meeting, the White House announced a number of new measures the Administration is taking, including USDA's assistance for livestock and crop producers, the National Credit Union Administration's increased capacity for lending to customers including farmers, and the U.S. Department of Transportation's emergency waivers for federal truck weight regulations and hours of service requirements to drought-stricken communities. President Obama also stressed the need for the entire Administration to continue to look at further steps it can take to ease the pain of this historic drought.