U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday announced USDA’s intent to purchase up to $170 million of chicken, pork, lamb, and catfish for federal food nutrition assistance programs, including food banks.

The purchase includes up to $50 million in chicken products, up to $100 million of pork products, up to $10 million of catfish products, and up to $10 million of lamb products.

USDA noted in a press release announcing the purchase that this action “will help relieve pressure on American livestock producers during the drought, while helping to bring the nation’s meat supply in line with demand while providing high quality, nutritious food to recipients of USDA’s nutrition programs.”

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) purchases a variety of high-quality food products each year to support the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and the Emergency Food Assistance Program. USDA also makes emergency food purchases for distribution to victims of natural disasters.

“At this very difficult economic time for chicken producers due to the severe drought and impending corn shortage that will unfortunately continue well into the future, I am grateful to USDA for working promptly and effectively with NCC to have a special bonus purchase program for chicken,” said National Chicken Council President Mike Brown in a statement released Monday.  “By providing chicken through this program, USDA will help feed many economically-stressed Americans while at the same time helping to stabilize the chicken market.  NCC looks forward to continuing to work with AMS to help ensure full success of the program.”

The Request for Proposal(s) (RFP) for Bonus Chicken Products is available here.  Awards will be announced by September 30 for deliveries beginning November 1.

There will be an industry conference call regarding this RFP at 10:00 a.m. central time on Tuesday, August 21.  The conference call will include an overview of the RFP and provide answers to previously submitted questions.  Following the conference call, a question and answer bulletin will be posted to the AMS website.  To participate in the call: dial 1-888-858-2144 and enter the access code: 2757569#