WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., appealed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture today to assist pork producers who have lost billions in equity due to factors like the recession and the H1N1 flu, which was referred to as swine flu when it first appeared earlier this year.
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Walz, and 62 other representatives wrote: “We appreciate your recent announcement of $30 million in USDA food aid purchases prior to the end of the fiscal year. However, because of the negative economic impact caused by the H1N1 virus outbreak and the losses the industry has incurred over the past two years, we are asking for additional help with the economic crisis the U.S. pork industry currently faces.”
The letter goes on to request that the USDA purchase an additional $100 million off the market with an emphasis on sow meat to reduce breeding stock to reduce overall hog numbers, work with other federal agencies to address swine disease surveillance and vaccine development, and work with the U.S. trade representative to open export markets to other countries, specifically to China.
In addition to Walz, Minnesota Reps. Collin Peterson, John Kline, and Jim Oberstar signed the letter.