Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide a feed assistance program to pork producers in Nebraska and other states affected by last year’s drought.

Hagel wrote Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman that last August’s $150 million feed aid program for cattle producers should be followed by a similar program for pork producers.

"This assistance could not come at a more critical time. In the last year alone, Nebraska lost 500 hog farms. Over the last 10 years, the state has lost 2,900 pork producers and 2.9 million hogs," he said in his letter.

"The ongoing drought has been especially devastating for livestock producers who receive little benefit from the farm bill, and are not provided the federal risk management tools available to most crop producers. If our livestock producers fall, there will be a devastating ripple effect on the overall rural economy," he says.