Walz, colleagues seek help for pork producers

Pork producers in Minnesota and around the country are losing money because of the worldwide recession and higher costs for feed and other materials.
MPR Photo/Mark Steil

Minnesota Congressman Tim Walz is asking the U.S. Agriculture Department for emergency help for the nation's pork producers.

Walz has sent a letter to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting the federal government purchase $100 million in pork products for various food programs, and push for more exports of pork, especially to China.

The letter was signed by 60 members of Congress from pork-producing states, including Minnesota Reps. Collin Peterson, John Kline and Jim Oberstar.

Since September 2007, U.S. pork producers have lost more than $4 billion in equity due to high input costs and the worldwide recession, according to the letter.

The crisis worsened in August of this year due to the H1N1 flu breakout which was frequently referred to as swine flu, giving Americans the false impression that eating pork increased their risk of getting the disease, the letter said.

"I have heard from pork producers across Minnesota who are concerned about the future of the pork industry," said Walz. "During this time of economic uncertainty, it is important that we act quickly to provide assistance and save good paying jobs in rural America."

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