The National Pork Producers Council has asked the U.S. government for aid. In a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, NPPC requested $250 million in financial assistance and other actions to help producers, who since September 2007 have lost an average of more than $21 on each hog marketed.
In Monday's request the NPPC asked for purchases by various federal food programs other than ones in USDA's Section 32 program using fiscal 2009 funds. A request by a group of Midwest governors for $50 million in pork purchases from Section 32 funds was rejected by Vilsack last week, as he said there wasn't sufficient money available in the program. NPPC also requested the cap on the Section 32 program be lifted.
In the letter, NPPC also asked for $100 million of the $1 billion appropriated for addressing the H1N1 virus for the swine industry. They requested $70 million for swine disease surveillance, $10 million for diagnostics and H1N1 vaccine development and $20 million for industry support.
"U.S. pork producers are in desperate straits right now, and they need a little help from USDA," said NPPC President Don Butler. "The request NPPC has made today not only will help pork producers and Americans who benefit from government feeding programs but tens of thousands of mostly rural jobs supported by the U.S. pork industry."
Additionally NPPC has requested USDA work with the U.S. Trade Representative to open markets to U.S. pork that have been closed by unwarranted bans attributed to H1N1. They also want a study on the expansion of corn-ethanol production and usage and the economic impact it will have on the livestock industry.