USDA agrees to help US pork producers
The US National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) commended the Bush administration for its decision to lend assistance to US pork producers to help them weather the current economic crisis in the hog business.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will purchase up to US$50 million of pork products, which will be donated to child nutrition and other domestic food assistance programmes.
NPPC officers and top staff recently met with agriculture secretary Ed Schafer to urge him to take immediate action to address a crisis that over 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-$50 on each hog marketed over the last 30 days.
Need for reduction
Economists have estimated that the industry will need to reduce production by at least 10% - meaning a reduction of 600,000 sows - to restore profitability.
Such a cutback, however, could result in less-efficient packing plants closing, less manure for crop fertiliser and correspondingly a need for more man-made, foreign-produced fertiliser, a hike in pork retail prices because of a smaller supply and lost jobs.
"The action by USDA to buy additional pork will benefit America's pork producers, the US economy and the people who rely on the government's various food programs," said NPPC president Bryan Black.
"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 its meeting with Schafer, NPPC requested that USDA purchase an additional 50.5 million pounds of pork - in 2007 it bought 43 million pounds - for various federal food programmes. This would reduce the US sow herd by nearly 163,600 animals.
The organisation also asked that the secretary 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.
â€¢ National Pork Producers Council
â€¢ United States Department of Agriculture
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