The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to buy $170 million worth of meat, poultry and fish products in a move to help federal food nutrition assistance programs and food banks.
Local companies like Tyson Foods are poised to benefit as the USDA said it will purchase up to $100 million in pork products and up to $50 million in chicken products. The government will also spend $10 million on catfish and $10 million on lamb to help an industry struggling with high feed costs as a result of widespread drought.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack noted in the release, "The purchases will help mitigate further downward prices, stabilize market conditions and provide high quality, nutritious food to recipients of USDA's nutrition programs."
The Emergency Surplus Removal Program allows USDA to buy meat and poultry products to help farmers and ranchers who have been affected by natural disasters, according to the agency. The pork, lamb and catfish purchases are based on current market conditions.
The National Chicken Council is happy to see the government purchase.
Council spokesman Mike Brown said this is a very difficult economic time for chicken producers. He said the National Chicken Council is grateful to USDA for working promptly and effectively with the industry to have a special bonus purchase program for chicken.
“By providing chicken through this program, USDA will help feed many economically-stressed Americans while at the same time helping to stabilize the chicken market," Brown noted in the release.