The American Farm Bureau Federation says USDA should allocate additional purchases of pork using the Section 32 program to help provide stability to the industry that is suffering from lost markets as a result of the recent H1N1 outbreak. Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman requested the Section 32 support for pork in a letter to U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack Thursday.
Stallman notes many U.S. pork producers have faced financial distress for well over a year because of low prices for pork and live hogs. He says this H1N1 virus, with references to swine flu and the banning of pork imports by various countries, has added to the problem.
According to an economic analysis of USDA Agricultural Marketing Service data done by Farm Bureau, a producer's operating loss has increased from an average of $17.17 per head to $31.94 per head since the outbreak of the H1N1 virus. University of Missouri Extension Economist Ron Plain expects losses of $400 million to the pork industry over the next four months and Purdue University Extension Economist Chris Hurt has estimated that between one-quarter and one-third of hog producers will have to reassess their futures in the business.
"Section 32 purchases of pork would not only provide market stability for the pork industry," Stallman said, "But would also provide a healthy protein source for those utilizing the nation's nutrition programs."