The Department of Agriculture announced its intention to purchase an additional $30 million in pork products for federal food and nutrition assistance programs in fiscal year 2009. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, “These purchases will assist producers who are currently struggling due to depressed market conditions and reflects the Obama administration’s ongoing work to support struggling producers. This action will help mitigate further downward prices, stabilize market conditions, stimulate the economy and provide high quality, nutritious food to recipients of USDA’s nutrition programs.” Altogether, USDA has purchased approximately $151 million in pork products for food and nutrition assistance programs this year. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has been urging USDA to make additional purchases to assist pork producers during these tough economic times in the pork industry.

COOL for Fuel — Growth Energy is calling for country-of-origin labeling (COOL) on gasoline. Retired General Wesley Clark, co-chairman of Growth Energy, said, “The American people deserve to know more about the gasoline they purchase every day, where it comes from and where their hard-earned dollars ultimately go every time they fill up their cars and trucks. The neighborhood filling station doesn’t pump neighborhood gas, it pumps a product of foreign origin that costs consumers and taxpayers billions of dollars every year.” In a statement, Growth Energy said, “In light of today’s global economy, coupled with our national security, energy independence and the economic implications of our fuel supply, we deserve to have more information and greater market transparency about the sources of our fuel.”

Farm Income Down — USDA is now projecting net farm income to drop to $54 billion, due to declining export demand and an expected bumper crop. The new forecast indicates a 38% income reduction compared to last year’s near record of $87.2 billion. The new forecast is $17 billion less than USDA’s February projection and $9 billion below the 10-year average of $63.2 billion.

Congress Returns Next Week — Congress will face a full agenda when it reconvenes next week. The Senate plans to spend much of September on health care reform. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA) have indicated they will delay introducing their global climate change bill until later in the month. The House and the Senate will spend a great deal of time in trying to finish appropriation bills before the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. Other issues for consideration are food safety, financial regulatory reform and child nutrition reauthorization. Congress is expected to be in session until late December.

P. Scott Shearer
Vice President
Bockorny Group
Washington, D.C.