Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced USDA's intention to purchase $50 million of pork products. The purchase will help pork producers reduce their sow herd in a market where production costs continue to exceed market value. In October, the National Pork Producers Council requested the USDA to purchase additional pork for government programs.
In addition to the pork purchase, the USDA intends to purchase $12.2 million of tart cherries, $1.8 million of dried plums and $18.6 million of apples for federal food nutrition assistance programs. Vilsack made the announcement today at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters annual convention.
"These purchases will assist pork, cherry, plum and apple producers, who are currently struggling due to depressed market conditions," said Vilsack. "Today's actions will help stabilize prices and markets, stimulate the economy, and provide high quality food to Americans in need of USDA's nutrition assistance programs."
NPPC thanked Congress for its efforts to help the U.S. pork industry, particularly the 63 House and 24 Senate members who signed a letter to Vilsack, urging him to make additional purchases of pork.
“The support U.S. pork producers have received from Secretary Vilsack and many members of Congress has been tremendous and very much appreciated,” said NPPC chief executive officer Neil Dierks. “And this latest purchase of pork should provide some relief to our industry and to rural America.”
The USDA will seek the lowest overall costs by surveying potential suppliers and publicly inviting bids to assure contracts are awarded to responsible bidders.
Each year, USDA purchases a variety of high-quality food products 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 focus on ensuring all purchased food is healthy and nutritious. Food items normally are required to be low in fat, sugar and sodium. The commodities must meet specified grade requirements and be USDA-certified to ensure they meet government standards of quality.
For more information on purchase details, interested suppliers should contact the appropriate Contracting Officer for each commodity program.