meat

Federal government hoarding meat stocks in response to drought - Food shortages for the rest of us?

Friday, August 17, 2012 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: drought, meat supply, food shortage

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(NaturalNews) At least two-thirds of the U.S. is currently suffering through varying degrees of drought, with the U.S. Drought Monitor reporting as of August 14 that 63 percent of hay, 72 percent of cattle, 85 percent of soybean crops, and 87 percent of corn crops are not getting the water they need to survive. And in response, the federal government has announced that it plans to buy up $170 million worth of pork, lamb, chicken, and catfish to help out these farmers -- but what does this mean for the rest of us?

Insufficient rains have already damaged a significant portion of the nation's feed crops, much of which are used to raise conventional cattle for meat production. As a result, feed prices have steadily increased while stocks have dwindled, putting many farmers in a difficult situation economically. So to help them along, the White House has pledged to stock up on extra meat and poultry, which it says it will distribute through federal food "nutrition" programs.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the agency will snatch up an additional $100 million worth of pork products, $50 million worth of chicken products, $10 millions worth of lamb products, and $10 million worth of catfish products. And whatever cannot be distributed through these federal programs will be stocked and frozen for future use, according to the White House.

Will federal government meat hoarding initiative cause food shortages across America?

This massive meat buy-up; however, could cause problems for the average meat-eating American, as meat products will be become less plentiful and thus, more expensive. Though the initial effects of the drought were expected to cause a slight dip in meat prices as farmers bring their cattle to slaughter sooner than they normally would to avoid the high feed costs, the federal government's obstruction of the free market could cause a meat shortage in the long term for everyone else.

Both the USDA and the Department of Defense (DOD) purchase bulk meat stocks every year to serve to government employees, military servicemen, and of course welfare recipients via federal food programs. But the amount the two agencies are being permitted to buy this year is much higher than normal. The federal government did the same thing in 2009 when hog producers saw a sharp decrease in pork prices following the H1N1 hysteria.

It has also been announced that the U.S. will send a near-record shipment of domestic corn to Mexico during the 2012-2013 marketing year, according to Mexico's The News. While the U.S. hobbles its way through a potential famine situation, the federal government has, for some reason, decided to send a whopping 1.5 million tons of corn to Mexico, the fourth largest sale of corn to a foreign country in U.S. history.

Sources for this article include:

http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

http://supermarketnews.com/meat/drought-impact-meat-prices

http://www.businessweek.com

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