The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is applauding the governors of a number of the top pork-producing states for urging President Obama to take immediate action to help U.S. pork producers through a nearly two-year-old economic crisis.

In a letter sent to the president Aug. 7, the governors of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Wisconsin asked the administration to:

--Support an additional $50 million of pork purchases for government feeding programs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) buys pork for federal food assistance programs; in 2008, it bought nearly $62.6 million in pork products.

--Remove a spending cap on USDA’s Section 32 food assistance program so that additional purchases of surplus agricultural products, including pork, can be made. Congress imposed the cap as part of USDA’s fiscal year 2009 budget.

--Urge China to quickly lift a ban on U.S. pork put in place because of the H1N1 Flu Outbreak Virus, and to eliminate other barriers to U.S. pork exports.

“Today, the pork industry is facing an economic crisis that is catastrophic in nature,” the governors said in their letter to the president. “For the pork industry to remain as vibrant entities in rural communities, we need your prompt actions to assure that our communities and the U.S. pork industry remain competitive worldwide.”

The U.S. pork industry has lost nearly $4.4 billion since September 2007, with producers losing an average of $21.37/hog over the past 21 months. Many pork producers have gone out of business or are in jeopardy of doing so, threatening thousands of the more than 550,000 mostly rural jobs they help support.

“U.S. pork producers, who provide America’s families with a safe, wholesome, nutritious product, are grateful to the governors for intervening on their behalf with President Obama,” said NPPC President Don Butler. “These state executives recognize that pork production is a significant value-added industry for their states and for our country.”