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Skelton joins other congressmen urging help for hurting pork producers
Skelton joins other congressmen urging help for hurting pork producers

Congressman Ike Skelton
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 5, 2009) — In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Congressman Ike Skelton and a bipartisan group of members from the House of Representatives urged the Administration to provide emergency support to the U.S. pork industry.

Portions of the letter are set forth below:

“... 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. Without your assistance, we are putting thousands of rural jobs and businesses at risk.”

“Mr. Secretary, we urge you take the following actions to provide much-needed emergency relief to the industry:

• Purchase an additional $100 million, from Section 32 funds, of pork for various federal food programs with a maximum emphasis on purchasing meat from sows with the objective to reduce breeding stock to reduce hog numbers.

• Work with appropriate federal agencies to help address swine disease surveillance on farms, related diagnostic and vaccine development, and swine industry support.

• Work with the U.S. Trade Representative to open export markets to U.S. pork, particularly China, which continues to impose non-science-based restrictions on U.S. pork since the outbreak of H1N1. In 2008, China was the second-largest volume market for U.S. pork exports, accounting for nearly 20 percent of total U.S. pork exports. Given the severely depressed state of the U.S. pork industry, resuming pork exports to China would give producers around the country a much-needed economic boost.”

A copy of the letter is attached.

_____

October 2, 2009

The Honorable Tom Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20250

Dear Mr. Secretary:

Thank you for all of your efforts to assist the U.S. pork industry after the H1N1 virus outbreak occurred earlier this year. We appreciated your advocacy for the industry by reiterating that pork is safe to eat and by requesting that other governments and organizations call the fly by its viral strain, H1N1, rather than “swine flu.”

Additionally, we appreciate your recent announcement of $30 million in USDA food aid purchases prior to the end of this 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. Without your assistance, we are putting thousands of rural jobs and businesses at risk.

Since September 2007, the U.S. pork industry has lost $4.6 billion in equity, with producers losing an average of more than $21 on each hog marketed. A number of factors contributed to severe losses, including rising input costs and a worldwide recession. The losses were exacerbated in the weeks after the Novel H1N1 influenza story broke on April 24. From then until mid-August, U.S. pork producer’s revenues declined by $991 million from the level expected before the H1N1 crisis began. Based on September 1st hog, corn and soybean futures prices, accumulated losses will rise to $2.185 billion by the end of 2009.

To put the pork industry economic crisis in perspective, a typical producer with 1,500 sows who sells 30,000 pigs per year will have lost $1.07 million dollars since monthly losses began in October 2007. Based on USDA data and Septembr 1st futures prices, that same producer stands to lose $20.14, $30.16, $38.22, $45.60 and $39.21 for each hog sold in August through December, respectively. Selling 2,500 hogs per month means an additional loss of $433,329 by year’s end. This is and will continue to be a devastating blow to the U.S. pork industry unless emergency assistance becomes available soon.

Mr. Secretary, we urge you to take the following actions to provide much-needed emergency relief to the industry:

• Purchase an additional $100 million, from Section 32 funds, of pork for various federal food programs with a maximum emphasis on purchasing meat from sows with the objective to reduce breeding stock to reduce hog numbers.

• Work with appropriate federal agencies to help address swine disease surveillance on farms, related diagnostic and vaccine development, and swine industry support.

• Work with the U.S. Trade Representative to open export markets to U.S. pork, particularly China, which continues to impose non-science-based restrictions on U.S. pork since the outbreak of H1N1. In 2008, China was the second-largest volume market for U.S. pork exports, accountingfor nearly 20 percent of total U.S. pork exports. Given the severely damaged state of the U.S. pork industry, resuming pork exports to China would give producers around the country a much-needed economic boost.

In addition to the requests listed above, we would appreciate it if you and your staff would continue to review other USDA programs to see if there are additional opportunities for assistance to aid the U.S. pork industry.

Again, we ask that you take immediate action to assist the pork industry to help producers during this emergency situation before more jobs are lost and more producers go out of business.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent request.

Sincerely,

Tim Walz, Member of Congress
Steve King, Member of Congress
Collin Peterson, Member of Congress
Frank Lucas, Member of Congress
John Boehner, Member of Congress
David Scott, Member of Congress
Jerry Moran, Member of Congress
Phil Hare, Member of Congress
Timothy Johnson, Member of Congress
Kurt Schrader, Member of Congress
Joe Donnelly, Member of Congress
John Boccieri, Member of Congress
Michael Turner, Member of Congress
Steve Austria, Member of Congress
Thaddeus McCotter, Member of Congress
Steve Kagen, Member of Congress
Bob Goodlatte, Member of Congress
Brad Miller, Member of Congress
Jo Ann Emerson, Member of Congress
Randy Neugelauer, Member of Congress
Tim Holden, Member of Congress
John Kline, Member of Congress
Roy Blunt, Member of Congress
Phil Roe, Member of Congress
Mike Ross, Member of Congress
Zack Space, Member of Congress
Deborah Halvorson, Member of Congress
Brad Ellsworth, Member of Congress
Leonard Boswell, Member of Congress
Aaron Schock, Member of Congress
Gwen Moore, Member of Congress
Blaine Leutkemeyer, Member of Congress
James Oberstar, Member of Congress
Dan Burton, Member of Congress
Lee Terry, Member of Congress
Corrine Brown, Member of Congress
G.K. Butterfield, Member of Congress
Mike Rogers (MI), Member of Congress
Mark Souder, Member of Congress
Ed Pastor, Member of Congress
Steve Buyer, Member of Congress
Bruce Braley, Member of Congress
Howard Coble, Member of Congress
Jim Jordan, Member of Congress
Bill Foster, Member of Congress
Dave Loebsack, Member of Congress
Tom Latham, Member of Congress
Sam Graves, Member of Congress
Jeff Fortenberry, Member of Congress
Mike Conaway, Member of Congress
Walter Jones, Member of Congress
Mike McIntyre, Member of Congress
Brett Guthrie, Member of Congress
Robert Lauer, Member of Congress
Betsey Markey, Member of Congress
Larry Kissell, Member of Congress
Jean Schmidt, Member of Congress
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Member of Congress
Patrick Tiberi, Member of Congress
Adrian Smith, Member of Congress
Ike Skelton, Member of Congress
Bob Etheridge, Member of Congress
Lynn Jenkins, Member of Congress

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at www.house.gov/skelton.

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