The U.S. Department of Agriculture is using our tax dollars to make loans to hog and poultry factory farms at a time when we have too many factory farms, too much pork and poultry on the market, and record-low pork and poultry prices.
To make matters worse, USDA is also using our tax dollars (about $150 million so far) to buy overproduced pork and poultry off the market in an effort to stabilize prices. […]
Based on its own data, USDA has provided over $264 million in loans to build new factory farms in the past two years. […]
In the past, USDA has said it doesn’t want to suspend these loans because it doesn’t want to eliminate credit going to beginning farmers. We have to remember, though, that these loans – which are averaging about $500,000 each – are going solely for the construction of new and expanding hog and poultry factory farms. Why encourage beginning farmers to put up capital-intensive factory farms when there is already severe overproduction and record-low prices? USDA could provide much smaller loans to many more beginning family farmers if it stopped making factory farm loans, and directed the money elsewhere.
On the Des Moines Register’s site you can read the whole op-ed by Hugh Espey, executive director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. Unfortunately, it sounds as if Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has not been receptive to the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment, which has been pushing for the UDSA to change its loan policies. There is precedent for such action. Espey writes that the Clinton administration “ordered a halt to these loans in 1999 when similar oversupply conditions existed.”