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Strain recommends critical food assistance plan

October 2, 2009

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. is supporting a national proposal to address the critical economic saturation of American dairy, pork and poultry products, while simultaneously providing much-needed nutritional assistance to Americans facing hunger due to job loss and other economic hardships.
“Every day Louisiana producers go out of business,” Strain said. “The current national oversupply is causing dairy, pork and poultry producers to build up unprecedented debt,” Strain said. “The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) has offered a solution to assist our producers and help people who are being affected by the economic downturn.”
Strain, who attended the NASDA conference in mid-September, said the NASDA plan would take a portion from the extra inventories of these food industries to reduce supply and use it to provide nutritious, protein-rich food to those unable to afford them.
Strain said as of July 2009, nearly 36 million Americans participate in the nation’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – an increase of more than 21 percent over a year ago. As of August 2009, more than 740,000 Louisiana residents participate in the SNAP program, according to the state Department of Social Services.
“Removing the surplus from the market and putting it into food assistance programs would quickly stabilize prices for these foods and allow producers to break-even or better on their farms,” Strain said. “The aid will be distributed through food assistance programs, which could include food banks, school lunch programs, SNAP and foreign military food assistance in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.”
NASDA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association that represents the commissioners, secretaries and directors of the state departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. As regulators of significant aspects of our nation’s agriculture industry, NASDA members are actively involved in ensuring the safety of an abundant food supply, protection of animal and plant health, stewardship of our environment and promoting the vitality of our rural communities.