US: Call to suspend poultry farm loans

26-10-2009 | |

“Over $264 mln in the past 2 years has been dumped into new and expanding hog and poultry facilities as prices remain low and oversupply persists,” says the Land Stewardship Project wesbite.

The Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment (CFFE) has delivered a letter with 25,323 signatures to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack calling for a suspension of Farm Service Agency (FSA) direct and guaranteed loans to new or expanding specialised hog and poultry facilities, says a press relase on the Land Stewardship Project wesbite.

Family farm organizations, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Missouri Rural Crisis Center and the Land Stewardship Project (Minn.), as well as the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) and the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA), point to federal loans for new or expanding hog and poultry facilities as contributing to overproduction and low market prices in these livestock sectors.

“We need action now by Secretary Vilsack and the Obama Administration to turn off the spigot of public dollars which is leading to production facilities in a sector of the economy with too many hogs, too many factory farms and too many months of overproduction and low prices,” said Matt Ohloff, rural organizer for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

Based on USDA data, FSA direct and guaranteed loans for new hog and poultry building construction for fiscal years 2008 and 2009 totalled $264,466,341, according to the press release.

The depressed prices in livestock markets is so alarming that USDA over the past 10 months has employed a strategy of conducting bonus pork and poultry buys in an attempt to stabilize and lift prices. USDA to date has purchased $55 mln and $42 mln worth of surplus pork and poultry, respectively, in an effort to provide assistance to these stressed livestock markets.

“This cycle of promoting the expansion of corporate livestock production with taxpayer money, then bailing out the industry because of overproduction with taxpayer money is an irresponsible practice and must come to an end,” said Rhonda Perry, Howard County, Mo., livestock and grain farmer and Program Director of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. “You can’t justify loans for new operations and more livestock when the current hog farmers are barely treading water or are going out of business all together.”

“Advancing a directive to suspend direct and guaranteed loans for specialized hog and poultry facilities is a concrete action USDA can take, and now is the time,” said Perry. “Farmers are struggling and this would at least stop taxpayer funds from further contributing to corporate overproduction and low prices and free up funds for farm families who will need to rely on USDA loans this year.”

To view the petition letter, click here.

To view the cover letter to Secretary Vilsack, click here (PDF).

The Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment (CFFE) includes: Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement; Missouri Rural Crisis Center; Land Stewardship Project (Minn.).

Source: Land Stewardship Project

Natalie Berkhout Freelance journalist