In a move to help drought-affected livestock producers, the U.S. Department… (Nati Harnik/Associated…)
In its latest move to provide relief to drought-stricken farmers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday that it would buy up to $170 million of meat from affected livestock producers.
The prolonged Midwest drought has driven up feed costs for livestock farmers in affected areas, and the purchase of pork, lamb, chicken and catfish will provide some relief, the USDA said in a statement.
The purchases will assist "producers who are currently struggling due to the challenging market conditions and the high cost of feed resulting from the widespread drought," Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak said in a statement.
The move will allow the department to purchase of up to $100 million in pork products; $10 million in catfish; $50 million in chicken; and $10 million in lamb products.
The meat will go toward several of the USDA's federal food nutrition assistant programs, such as the National School Lunch Program and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
The announcement follows previous moves by the USDA that have allowed drought-affected farmers to secure low-interest emergency loans in an expedited time frame.
The drought affecting the country's midsection has ruined half the nation's corn crop and pushed corn futures to record levels. The drought, the worst in more than two decades, is expected to drive up food costs for consumers.
Farmers have been lobbying Congress to pass a 2012 Farm Bill, which is currently working its way through the House of Representatives. The current farm bill is set to expire in a few weeks and farmers want a security net in place before planning for next year.
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