The continuing crisis facing Minnesota’s pork producers—and the resulting impact upon vet clinics, implement dealers, and many others in our area—is the result of a number of factors. On August 20, I wrote to Minnesota’s Congressional delegation to request their help to enable Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to expend $50 million to purchase pork for a set of federal food programs. Through this concerted, bipartisan effort, the USDA allocated $30 million, collected from fees on imported foods, to provide our pork producers a little bit of breathing room.
As I explained in my August 20th letter, a two-step solution is needed. The new federal fiscal year began on October 1. That day, I sent the following letter to our Congressional delegation:
First, I thank you for your support of Minnesota’s pork producers. You may recall that, on August 20, 2009, I wrote to ask you to support use of $50 million before or by September 30, 2009 of USDA funds to help United States’ pork producers. Secretary Vilsack announced on September 3rd that the USDA would expend $30 million to purchase pork to support a set of food programs. The family farms in my district and throughout Minnesota who comprise our pork industry and I are grateful to you for your assistance.
My August 20th letter identified a two-step process to assist Minnesota’s hog farmers. It is now time to pursue the second step. Today, the first day of the new federal fiscal year, I request that you work with Secretary Vilsack to complete a $50 million purchase of pork for the same purposes as before. Quick action will deliver a hopeful sign to our farm families and to Minnesota’s pork industry.
My August 20th letter delineated the many challenges that our pork producers face; I will not reiterate them here as I trust you are very familiar with their plight. I look forward to hearing from you so that I might tell my area’s pork producers that help is on the way. Please know that I stand ready to help you in any way so that, together, we can help our farmers and maintain Minnesota’s agricultural base.
Because a set of factors have beset Minnesota’s hog farmers and our pork industry as a whole, a combination of responses will be needed. By purchasing pork to be used to feed people, the federal government assists people hurting in this difficult economy at the same time it helps sustain Minnesota’s vital pork producers.
Representative Terry Morrow
Minnesota House District 23A