U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom
Vilsack announced on Monday that the federal government plans to
purchase up to $170 million worth of meat products in a
bid to relieve pressure on domestic livestock producers impacted by
the country's massive drought.
The move "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," said Vilsack in a statement.
Specifically, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is about to buy up to 100 million dollars worth of pork products, up to 10 million of catfish products, up to 50 million of chicken products, and up to 10 million of lamb products.
The USDA said that a major factor affecting livestock producers was the price of feed, which was currently running high because of the drought. Some livestock producers in the U.S. state of Iowa told Xinhua earlier that the corn feed price has recently skyrocketed to $8.5 a bushel from $5.5 three months ago.
The latest move added to a bunch of emergency measures taken by the USDA, which included an investment of nearly $30 million to help rehabilitate farmland and implement emergency water conservation measures. The department also planned to expand emergency haying and grazing on about 3.8 million acres of conservation land.
The United States is now experiencing the worst drought in more than 50 years. During the 2012 crop year, the USDA has designated 1,628 counties across 33 states as disaster areas, among which 1,496 are affected by drought.
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