The Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment has delivered a letter with more than 25,000 signatures to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack calling for the Farm Service Agency to suspend direct and guaranteed loans to new or expanding specialized hog and poultry facilities. The coalition says the loans are contributing to overproduction and low market prices in these livestock sectors.
In a news release, the groups cited USDA data showing FSA direct and guaranteed loans for new hog and poultry building construction for fiscal years 2008 and 2009 totaled nearly $265 million. At the same time, USDA has purchased $55 million and $42 million worth of surplus pork and poultry, respectively, in an effort to provide relief to these livestock markets, stressed by depressed prices.
Rhonda Perry, a Howard County, Missouri livestock and grain farmer and program director of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, says this cycle of promoting the expansion of corporate livestock production with taxpayer money, then bailing out the industry because of overproduction with taxpayer money is an irresponsible practice and must come to an end. Perry added loans can't be justified under present conditions.