The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will purchase $170 million from farmers and ranchers affected by the drought, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today. The pork, lamb, chicken, and catfish will be used in for federal food nutrition assistance programs, including food banks.
“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,” Vilsack said in statement.
Of the $170 million purchase, about $100 million will go to pork products, about $50 million in chicken products and roughly $10 million each for catfish and lamb products. Because of the drought conditions, the USDA is authorized to use funds from the Emergency Surplus Removal Program,.
More than half of the country is experiencing moderate drought and about 38 percent is experiencing sever drought according to the the latest information from the U.S. Drought Monitor. Recently, the USDA has taken a number of steps to try and help farmers and ranchers affected by the drought. For example, the agency openend acreage in the Conservation Reserve Program to emergency haying and grazing, lowered interest rates for borrowers on emergency loans, and negotiated with crop insurance companies to allow farmers and ranchers more flexibility in their premium payment schedule. More than 200 counties nationwide have been declared disaster areas because of the most severe drought conditions the country has seen in more than 50 years.