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Test EVERY Cow in the Food Chain

Test EVERY Cow in the Food Chain
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

US to Short-Change Consumers to Help Big-Ag

NASDA Offers Solution to Crisis Facing Dairy, Pork, and Poultry Producers

American farmers and producers providing critical food assistance to fellow struggling Americans

Washington, DC - The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) this week released a proposal to address the critical economic situation of American dairy, pork, and poultry producers, while simultaneously providing much-needed nutritional assistance to Americans facing hunger due to job loss and other economic hardships.

“Each and every day, we watch as producers in our states go out of business. The current oversupply in the marketplace is causing dairy, pork, and poultry producers to accumulate debt as never before,” said NASDA President Ed Kee. “I am pleased we came together as a national organization to offer a solution to assist our producers. At the same time, our plan will provide vital aid to those Americans also greatly affected by the economic downturn.”

To date, a number of potential solutions have been proposed to help these industries survive this economic downturn and gain a solid footing for the future. Individual producers, through no fault of their own, are going out of business. Before it is too late for many producers, NASDA is proposing a bold solution: a plan to take extra inventories off the market to reduce supply, all while providing vital nutritious, protein-rich foods to those who are unable to afford them, which is in more demand now than ever before. As of July 2009, there are nearly 36 million Americans currently participating in the nation’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – over a 23% increase from just a year ago.

Leonard Blackham, Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food, and leader of the NASDA working group, explained, “By removing these excess products off the market, and placing them into food assistance programs, we will quickly stabilize the prices for these products, allowing the producers to break-even, or perhaps even make a profit on their farms. Simultaneously, our fellow citizens struggling to put food on their table will find themselves with more opportunities for healthy, protein-rich meals.”

The NASDA plan would establish a tiered-purchase program for the dairy and pork industries, as well as a one-time purchase of turkey products. For dairy, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would begin with a purchase 75 million pounds of cheese and additional dairy products, as determined by USDA. This would be done in three equal stages over a 120-day period, or until the target all-milk price of $16/cwt – the cost of production – is met.

To deal with the excess product in the pork sector, a purchase by USDA of cold storage inventories of pork would be implemented over a 180-day period, or until a target price of $49/cwt was realized. Each tier would consist of 100 million pounds of pork products. USDA would also make a one-time purchase of 100 million pounds of turkey products.

“To ensure these products reach those who truly need it, the aid will be distributed through food assistance programs, which could include food banks, the school lunch program, and a SNAP-PLUS program, as well as foreign military food assistance in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Steve Troxler, North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture. “Under SNAP-PLUS, an additional allotment to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), at an amount to be determined, would be allocated for beneficiaries of the program to purchase meat and dairy products at private grocers. Using the system currently utilized across the nation, participants would be given separate electronic benefits transfer cards to spend solely on these products.”

Through product purchases to reduce the oversupply on the market, NASDA’s proposal will help farmers and producers recover from severe economic hardships. At the same time, the proposal will help put much needed food on the tables of the countless American families struggling to make ends meet. NASDA calls upon Congressional leaders and Administration officials to step up to the plate and take the Meat the Need proposal into consideration to improve the lives of millions of Americans.

NASDA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association that represents the commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the state departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. As regulators of significant aspects of our nation’s agriculture industry, NASDA members are actively involved in ensuring the safety of an abundant food supply, protection of animal and plant health, stewardship of our environment, and promoting the vitality of our rural communities.

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