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USDA to Make $170 Million Meat Purchase

WASHINGTON — To help soften the burden of the drought on catfish, pork, chicken and pork livestock producers, U.S. Department of Agriculture will be buying $170 million in meat products, Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Monday.

The $170 million of meat products — comprised of $100 million of pork products, $10 million of catfish, $50 million of chicken and $10 million of lamb — will be used for USDA nutrition programs such as food banks.

"These purchases will assist pork, catfish, chicken and lamb producers who are currently struggling due to challenging market conditions and the high cost of feed resulting from the widespread drought,” Vilsack said in a press 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."

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The National Chicken Council supported the USDA's chicken purchase. 

“At this very difficult economic time for chicken producers due to the severe drought and impending corn shortage that will unfortunately continue well into the future, the National Chicken Council is grateful to USDA for working promptly and effectively with NCC to have a special bonus purchase program for chicken,” National Chicken Council President Mike Brown said in a statement to the press. “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.”

The USDA noted that President Obama reviewed and implemented drought relief actions last week, such as emergency funding for livestock and crop products and livestock grazing on federal land.

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