USDA Purchases $170 Million of Meat to Combat Drought14 August 2012
US - This week, President Obama has seen first-hand the damage caused by drought, and described a new effort to help livestock producers. Touring McIntosh Family Farmers in Missouri Valley, Iowa, the President announced that the Department of Agriculture will begin to buy up to $170 million worth of beef, pork, chicken, lamb, and fish.
The Department of Defense, which purchased more than 150,000 million pounds of beef and pork in the last year alone, is encouraging its vendors to accelerate meat purchases for the military and freeze it for future use.
The goal is to give farmers and ranchers an opportunity to sell more of what they produce and save taxpayers money on food the government would have purchased for military bases, hospitals, schools, and food banks anyway.
"Understand this won't solve the problem. We can't make it rain," the President said. "But this will help families like the McIntoshes in states across the country. And we're going to keep doing what we can to help because that's what we do. We are Americans. We take care of each other."
To deliver more expansive aid for those hit by the drought, President Obama said that Congress needs to act.
"They need to pass a farm bill that not only helps farmers and ranchers respond to natural disasters, but also makes necessary reforms and gives them some long-term certainty," he said.
But in the meantime, the President won't wait for lawmakers to begin helping those struggling with the high temperatures and the lack of rain.
"President Obama and I will continue to take swift action to get help to America's farmers and ranchers through this difficult time," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "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, stabilise market conditions, and provide high quality, nutritious food to recipients of USDA's nutrition programmes."