Pork Purchases Help American Farmers, Needy

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The Washington Post started the New Year off with a misinformed bang with this headline: “Trump farm bailout money will go to Brazilian-owned meatpacking firm, USDA says.”

HOTH takes issue with the paper’s characterization of USDA’s purchases of pork as bailouts and with its criticism of meatpacker JBS.

Every year, the Agriculture Department buys farm commodities for various food-assistance programs. The government gets safe, nutritious products at a great price to feed the needy, federal prisoners, the military and school children.

USDA buys pork from meatpackers in the U.S. that want to sell it – the agency solicits bids from qualified vendors – and hog farmers who sell pigs to packers benefit from the purchases. So do the people who use federal food programs.

The ongoing purchase program is part of the Trump administration’s effort to ease the financial pain hog farmers have been feeling because of trade disputes, particularly between the United States and China and Mexico, which imposed punitive tariffs on U.S. pork.

The program’s overarching goals are to provide demand stimulus for the entire U.S. pork industry – when the purchases are complete, they’ll take about a week’s worth of supply off the market – and deliver a nutritious food product to the needy.

As for JBS’s participation in the purchase program, the company, which employees thousands of workers in the U.S., will receive for selling pork to USDA less than 1 percent of the $559 million allocated for the program. (HOTH wonders if The Post has something against foreigners. Hmm.)

The Post’s unwarranted and, in HOTH’s opinion, hysterical criticism could dissuade companies from participating in the purchase program, thereby decreasing suppliers and raising the government’s costs, all to the detriment of farmers and people who rely on USDA’s food programs.

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed,” humorist Mark Twain once quipped. “If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.” In this case, HOTH agrees.