The Bush Administration has elected to assist U.S. pork producers in helping them weather the current economic crisis. On Thursday, the Administration announced that USDA will purchase up to $50 million of pork products, which will be donated to child nutrition and other domestic food assistance programs.

The National Pork Producers Council representatives had met recently with USDA Secretary Ed Schafer to urge him to take immediate action to address a crisis that during the past seven months has cost the pork industry more than $2.1 billion. Due mostly to a doubling of feed costs, producers have lost $30 to $50 on each hog marketed over the last 30 days.

“The action by USDA to buy additional pork will benefit America’s pork producers, the U.S. economy and the people who rely on the government’s various food programs,” says Bryan Black, NPPC president and Ohio pork producer. “It will help our industry reduce the herd and thereby bring supply and demand back into balance and allow producers to continue to provide consumers with economical, nutritious pork.”

In the meeting with Secretary Schafer, NPPC requested the purchase of an additional 50.5 million pounds of pork – in 2007 it bought 43 million pounds – for various federal food programs. The equivalent would be a reduction of the U.S. sow herd by nearly 163,600 animals.

Further, organization also asked that the secretary to implement emergency programs and loan guarantees to help producers purchase feed, consider allowing early release without penalty of non-environmentally sensitive Conservation Reserve Program acres back into crop production and support pork exports through USDA’s Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program. Those measures are still up in the air.

Source: National Pork Producers Council