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USDA Makes Big Meat Purchase

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More than half of the U.S. has been declared to be a natural disaster area, and 69% of the Midwest is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought. As the corn crop dwindles, prices have jumped upwards of 60%, reaching a record high of $8.49/bu. on Aug. 10. As a result of this drought, more farmers and ranchers are culling their livestock to avoid paying the high feed prices.

While on the campaign trail earlier this week, President Barack Obama announced that the USDA will purchase $170 million worth of meat to assist farmers and ranchers struggling with the worst combination of heat and dryness since the 1950s, according to USDA.

The purchase includes pork, chicken, lamb and catfish. Noticeably absent is beef.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, “Obama called for Congress to pass a five-year agriculture policy bill that the White House said would provide short-term relief and long-term certainty to farmers and ranchers. A livestock-assistance program in the current farm bill expired last year. The U.S. Senate and the House Agriculture Committee have approved bills to replace the current law which contain livestock relief provisions. House Republican leaders have not set a vote on their legislation. The House on Aug. 2 approved a $383 million stopgap measure to reinstate the livestock aid, while the Senate took no action. The current farm bill was passed in 2008 and expires in September.”

Additionally, according to CNN, "The Defense Department is reviewing its purchases of beef, pork and lamb to see if room can be made to buy more now and freeze them for later. The military already buys approximately 94 million lbs. of beef, 64 million lbs. of pork, and 500,000 lbs. of lamb each year. That food gets eaten by troops around the world, even in combat zones like Afghanistan."

Despite more cows being sold and a greater supply of beef in the market, consumers are seeing sticker shock when they purchase it at the grocery store. According to CNS News, “The average price of ground beef hit a record high in the U.S. in July, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS has been tracking the average price of a pound of 100% ground beef since 1984. In July, it cost $3.085, up from $3.007 in June. Prior to June, the average cost of 100% ground beef in the U.S. had never topped $3.00.”

What do you think of the USDA’s meat purchase? Do you anticipate Congress passing the bill to provide relief to farmers and ranchers soon? If so, is it too little, too late?

Discuss this Blog Entry 18

Bobbi (not verified)
on Aug 16, 2012

I am terribly dissapointed that beef was not included in the mix of meat purchased. The beef industry is struggling just as much as the other meat industry sectors and there should have been some beef included in the purchase along with the other meat sources.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 16, 2012

How's that supposed to help livestock producers. We need feed, not less meat on the market. Typical politician trying to buy votes with money they don't have.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 16, 2012

I'm from the government. I'm here to help you.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 16, 2012

While I appreciate the purchase for proteins, it's extremely disappointing that beef wasn't purchased. Many will say that this was a political move - be that as it may, it's nice to see some support given to livestock producers who don't have the luxury of insurance like crop producers.

Reality41 (not verified)
on Aug 16, 2012

I think it's a major mistake that the government subsidizes ANY agriculture period.... Simple economics... supply and demand. let the bottom fall out and it will come back stronger and better than ever before... this goes for the housing as well... it's a proven fact that the more the government gets involved the worse the outcome...Stand Up and Wake Up America.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 17, 2012

I agree only if the government gets completely out. Stop the ethanol regulations, the animal ID program, and everything else that makes the farmers and ranchers less competitive in a world economy.

Chris Purcell (not verified)
on Aug 18, 2012

I agree 100%. The government should stay out of agriculture as well as any private enterprise. The law of supply and demand will separate the winners and losers!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 16, 2012

Lets get honest here. This meat is being purchased (at a discount) for school lunches and welfare programs. It is not being purchased from farmers and ranchers, but from the packing houses. It has nothing to do with helping agriculture, but in expanding the welfare movement.

Ed (not verified)
on Aug 16, 2012

I raise beef and not catfish. Sounds to me like Obama does not need the cattleman's vote. Promise he will NOT get mine this time.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 16, 2012

I think ALL government subsidies are wrong. Farming/ranching is a business. Business can be risky!

Stephanie (not verified)
on Aug 16, 2012

Last time I checked cows were affected by the drought too. Im not sure why they would not include beef in this attempt to help ranchers.

Johnny (not verified)
on Aug 16, 2012

This is strictly a way to make it look like Obama is trying to help the farmers and ranchers. This purchase will represent maybe a days production in US. Its not help with price we need it help with feed costs. If he wants to help lets cut out the renewable fuel mandate and let ethanol stand on it own two feet.

Keith Evans (not verified)
on Aug 16, 2012

The House of Representatives has been unable to pass much useful legislation, least the present administration get some credit. If this attitude holds there will be little relief for farmers or others who desperately need government assistance.

Johnny (not verified)
on Aug 16, 2012

Keith, who made it the governments job to bail out everyone who needs help. At some point we have to be responsible for ourselves.

Bill (not verified)
on Aug 20, 2012

AMEN Johnny !

Dee in MO (not verified)
on Aug 19, 2012

yes, you will help us out of business!

Terry Church (not verified)
on Aug 20, 2012

Beef producers are hurting just as much as anyone. The goverment can use the meat to feed the troops or to help feed those in need.

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