Following up on the request by nine governors and pork industry giants for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to spend $50 million on excess pork products, Radio Iowa reported on Tuesday that the USDA can't help right now:
"We are down to our last $7 or 8 million because there's been such a demand for so many kinds of commodities, including pork. I think in the last fiscal year $62 million worth of pork purchases have been made," [Secretary of Agriculture Tom] Vilsack says. "...So we are trying to meet the demands of everyone."
Vilsack says there may be more money in the pipeline this fall. "When October 1 comes, when the new fiscal year starts, we have a little greater flexibility and at that time we are taking a look at all these requests," Vilsack says, "and we will make determinations at that point in time in terms of what is being requested of us and what we think makes sense." [...]
"We are very sensitive to the concerns of the pork industry. We have tried to respond by asking our institutional purchasers like the Department of Defense and others to purchase more pork products. We'll continue to do that," Vilsack says. "But I think we are stuck by virtue of the amount of money left in the account that we use to do this, but in October 1 it gets replenished and we'll be in a different position."
Meanwhile, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement makes it easy for you to e-mail Governor Chet Culver to tell him you oppose taxpayer-funded bailouts of factory farms.
This is not a bail out!
The USDA buys food (IE pork,beef, chicken, cheese etc.) for school lunch programs and for other uses. $50 million is less than $.50 per animal raised per year in the USA. At least the Govt. and poor people will get something (food) that they can use right away to feed people in need.
How has giving money to banks and car companies helped poor starving people? It hasn't helped much at all. This industy is important to the state of Iowa. It creates over 60,000 jobs that we can not afford to lose right now.
The water is cleaner now than it was 30 years ago when lots of small farms produced hogs and cattle in out door lots. Just ask the rural water folks and they will tell you the water is cleaner now!
Quite frankly $50 million will not help much. Producer are losing $20 to $30 per animal they sell to market. So spending $.50 animal to buy as little pork is a drop in the bucket.
Compare this to the billions wasted on the car and insurance industries and this doesn't even make the radar screens. Are we ever going to see a return on that money?
This won't save many (any) union jobs so it I'm sure most liberal leaning folks won't support this.
Please consider that farmers are very good members of their communities.
As you once stated to me, I now will say to you. Your contemp for farmers and the pork industry is well noted.
I'll rant some more!
Also the food you eat is this country is SAFE and CHEAP. These two words are rarely ever said together. We do not want export agricultural jobs to third world countries and then import food to feed our people. The China Melomine scare should be enough to prove that. The hoof and mouth disease out break in Brazil in the 2000(?)is another example.
I do not want to depend on poor third world countries for my food. It will not be as safe and if there are shortages it will get very expensive as well. Ask Japan how they like importing food?
cheap and safe
if you don't count "the untold costs of confined animal feeding operations," like how much our tax dollars support their businesses and how much we have to spend later to make our water drinkable.
Cheap if you're not unlucky enough to live downwind of one of these operations and see your own property values and quality of life dwindle.
Cheap if you aren't a family farmer who was driven out of business by these operations.
Safe if you don't suffer from respiratory problems because you work at a CAFO or live near one.
Also safe if you don't consider the various problems caused by overuse of antibiotics in overcrowded confinements.
Nice straw man argument trying to make me into the advocate of imports from poor third world countries, but I buy as much Iowa-grown food as I can, and sustainable agriculture would support more farmers on Iowa land.
I have a lot of respect for farmers who are doing their best, and I'm a member of Practical Farmers of Iowa and the Iowa Network for Community Agriculture. I would like to see more Iowa farmers using sustainable methods like the farmers I buy from use.
The Niman Ranch business has been very successful. There's more than one profitable way to raise pork.
I'm on record
opposing the Wall Street bailouts in many posts here and at other blogs. You can't pin that one on me.