USDA Goes Grocery Shopping

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The U. S. Agriculture Department will buy turkey, pork, lamb and walnuts for domestic food assistance programs as part of several measures announced on March 31 to help farmers struggling with low prices, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The U. S. will buy $60 million of turkey, $25 million of pork, $2 million of lamb and $29.7 million of walnuts, to “help mitigate further downward prices, stabilize market conditions, stimulate the economy, and provide high-quality, nutritious food to recipients of our nutrition programs,” Vilsack said.

USDA will use the food in school meal programs, food banks and to help victims of natural disasters. Vilsack also said USDA will extend the signup to Aug. 14 from an earlier June 1 deadline for the new Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) and the Direct and Counter-Cyclical programs (DCP).

Signup for ACRE is expected to start in late April. “Extending the DCP and ACRE sign up deadline will help ensure that America’s farmers have enough information and time to determine whether to participate in the ACRE Program,” he said.

When farmers sign up for ACRE, they accept a 20 per cent reduction in direct payments and a 30 per cent cut in crop support prices. They get a payment when crop revenue falls at the state and farm level, based on average yields and prices.

The announcement comes after the U. S. government said it will shift $160 million worth of surplus dry milk into school lunches and food donations to help poor people and dairy farmers hit by high feed costs and low prices.

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