Vice President Gore announced on Tuesday that the Agriculture Department (USDA) will buy up to $20 million in U.S. beef to help improve prices for cattle producers and the livestock industry. "I am pleased to announce today that we will act right now to help hurting farmers," Vice President Gore said. "Our Agriculture Department will buy $20 million in U.S. beef, helping America's cattle ranchers who have been operating at or below break-even levels for most of this year."
The announcement is the latest in a series of purchases and other actions that USDA has taken to help offset a surplus of federal cattle that has depressed prices to ranchers, farmers, and feedlot operators. During fiscal 1998, USDA bought 145.7 million pounds of domestic beef products at a cost of $158.9 million. The beef is distributed to recipients in federal food assistance programs.
The Vice President's announcement builds on the Administration's continuing efforts to shore up the domestic farm safety net. Last month, for instance, the Vice President announced that Argentina will lift its ban on U.S. pork in an agreement that is expected to bring up to $10 million next year to U.S. pork producers. The Vice President also asked Secretary Glickman to present to him, in time for the next budget, a comprehensive proposal for a stronger farm safety net.