ALABAMA PORK PRODUCERS SEEK USDA HELP
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The Alabama Pork Producers today joined the National Pork Producers Council in urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to lend assistance to U.S. pork producers to help them weather a nearly two-year-old economic crisis.
Since September 2007, pork producers have lost an average of more than $21 on each hog marketed, and current hog futures prices show losses well into next year.
"Our pork producer members are hurting, and have been for almost two years now. They need help," said Mark Pennington, chairman of the Alabama Pork Producers. "USDA can provide that assistance, which will help Americans who rely on government feeding programs and U.S. pork producers, who feed consumers worldwide and support hundreds of thousands of mostly rural jobs."
The Alabama Pork Producers and NPPC have asked USDA to:
-- Purchase immediately an additional $50 million of pork for various federal food programs, using fiscal 2009 funds. Fiscal 2009 ends Sept. 30. (USDA annually buys pork for food programs; it bought $62.6 million worth in 2008, for example.)
-- Lift a spending cap on USDA's Section 32 program, and use $50 million of $300 million available to purchase pork for the program, which uses customs receipts to buy non-price-supported commodities for school lunch and other food programs.
-- Buy on Oct. 1 a minimum of $50 million of pork, using fiscal 2010 funds. Fiscal 2010 begins Oct. 1. The purchase would be in addition to USDA's annual buy.
-- Use $100 million of the $1 billion appropriated for addressing the H1N1 virus for the swine industry. This would include $70 million for swine disease surveillance, $10 million for diagnostics and H1N1 vaccine development and 20 million for industry support.
-- Work with the U.S. trade representative to open export markets to U.S. pork. Several countries, including China, continue to impose unwarranted bans on U.S. pork because of the H1N1 flu.
-- Study the economic impact on the livestock industry of an expansion of corn-ethanol production and usage. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed raising the cap on blending ethanol into gasoline to 15 percent from its current 10 percent.
On Aug. 7, governors from nine states asked the federal government to help U.S. pork producers, urging USDA to make a supplemental $50 million purchase of pork and to lift the Section 32 spending cap to make additional pork buys.