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Members of Congress Urge USDA to Provide Further Assistance to the Pork Industry

Thursday, October 8, 2009

(American Meat Institute)

Sixty-three members of the House of Representatives joined 32 members of the United States Senate in urging Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to take immediate action to assist the pork industry in the wake of the negative impact caused by the H1N1 virus outbreak.

“Since 2007, the U.S. pork industry has lost $4.6 billion in equity, with producers losing an average of more than $21 on each hog marketed. A number of factors contributed to severe losses, including rising input costs and a worldwide recession. The losses were exacerbated in the weeks after the Novel H1N1 influenza story broke on April 24. From then until mid-August, U.S. pork producers’ revenues declined by $991 million from the level expected before the H1N1 crisis began. Based on September 1st hog, corn and soybean futures prices, accumulated losses will rise to $2.185 billion by the end of 2009,” the letters state.

The lawmakers note that a typical producer with 1,500 sows who sells 30,000 pigs per year will have lost $1.07 million dollars since monthly losses began in October 2007. Based on U.S.D.A. data and September 1 futures prices, that same producer stands to lose $20.14, $30.16, $38.22, $45.60 and $39.21 for each hog sold in August through December, respectively. Selling 2,500 hogs per month means an additional loss of $433,329 by year’s end.

 The letter requests that the Secretary take the following actions to provide emergency relief to the industry:

 • Purchase an additional $100 million, from Section 32 funds, of pork for various federal food programs with a maximum emphasis on purchasing meat from sows with the objective to reduce breeding stock to reduce hog numbers.

 • Work with appropriate federal agencies to help address swine disease surveillance on farms, related diagnostic and vaccine development, and swine industry support.

 • Work with the U.S. Trade Representative to open export markets to U.S. pork, particularly China, which continues to impose non-science-based restrictions on U.S. pork since the outbreak of Novel H1N1. In 2008, China was the second largest volume market for U.S. pork exports, accounting for nearly 20 percent of total U.S. pork exports. Given the severely depressed state of the U.S. pork industry, resuming pork exports to China would give producers around the country a much needed economic boost.

 In addition, lawmakers request that Vilsack continue to review other USDA programs to see if there are other opportunities for assistance to aid the pork industry.

 To view a copy of the House of Representatives letter, click here: http://www.meatinstitute.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/53966

 To view a copy of the Senate letter, click here: http://www.meatinstitute.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/53968

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