Buy Up Surplus Pork and Aid Crisis, says Senator

by 5m Editor
21 April 2008, at 8:18am

MINNESOTA - Senator Amy Klobuchar has urged the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Secretary Ed Schafer to assist Minnesota pork producers who have been devastated by a combination of low hog prices and high input costs.

Sen. Klobuchar (pictured) asked Schafer to use federal authority that allows the Department of Agriculture to buy surplus commodities, taking them off the market and donating them to school lunch programs and other federal nutrition services.

"Plunging hog prices have created a crisis in an industry that is vital to our state’s economy," Klobuchar said. "Some of our working families are being hit by a combination of economic forces completely beyond their control."

Emergency Meetings

This month, wholesale pork prices hit their lowest level in four years. At the same time, pork producers are paying record prices for inputs such as feed and fuel. Earlier this week, 250 pork producers convened an emergency meeting in Mankato, Minnesota, to address this crisis, and many expressed concerns that their operations would not survive the year under current conditions.

Minnesota is the nation’s third largest pork producer, with 2,500 farms and more than 20,000 jobs in hog production and pork processing. By one estimate, the US pork industry could lose as much as $3.5 billion this year.

Section 32 of the 1935 federal Farm Bill gives the Secretary of Agriculture authority to buy commodities in time of market surpluses to stabilize farm income and supply federal nutrition programs.

"This is exactly the kind of market crisis that Congress had in mind, and it is time for USDA to use that authority,"said Sen. Klobuchar.

A full transcript of the letter can be found on Senator Klobuchar's website.

5m Editor