The U.S. pork industry has been asking USDA to purchase pork products to help the industry during a time of weak prices. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says USDA intends to purchase an additional $30 million in pork products in FY 2009 for federal food and nutrition assistance programs. Altogether, USDA has purchased approximately $151 million in pork products this year through annual appropriation and Recovery Act funding.
National Pork Producers Council President Don Butler said the action will benefit America's pork producers, the U.S. economy and the people who benefit from government food programs. "NPPC is extremely grateful to Secretary Vilsack for recognizing the plight of our producers and for taking action to help them," Butler said.
Chairman of the Senate Ag Committee Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said the announcement comes at a crucial time as pork producers are struggling because of greatly depressed pork prices, a weak economy and unfair export trade restrictions.