Members of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture have created a “Meat the Need” proposal to help feed the needs, and it is calling for $900 million in stimulus funds to finance the program. The proposal calls for the USDA to buy $900 million worth of turkey, dairy and pork products and distribute the food to food pantries and the school lunch program.

“Each and every day, we watch as producers in our states go out of business. The current oversupply in the marketplace is causing dairy, pork, and poultry producers to accumulate debt as never before,” said NASDA President Ed Kee. “I am pleased we came together as a national organization to offer a solution to assist our producers. At the same time, our plan will provide vital aid to those Americans also greatly affected by the economic downturn.”

The NASDA plan would establish a tiered-purchase program for the dairy and pork industries, as well as a one-time purchase of turkey products. For dairy, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would begin with a purchase 75 million pounds of cheese and additional dairy products, as determined by USDA. This would be done in three equal stages over a 120-day period, or until the target all-milk price of $16/cwt – the cost of production – is met.
To deal with the excess product in the pork sector, a purchase by USDA of cold storage inventories of pork would be implemented over a 180-day period, or until a target price of $49/cwt was realized. Each tier would consist of 100 million pounds of pork products. USDA would also make a one-time purchase of 100 million pounds of turkey products.

Leonard Blackham, Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food, and leader of the NASDA working group, explained, “By removing these excess products off the market, and placing them into food assistance programs, we will quickly stabilize the prices for these products, allowing the producers to break-even, or perhaps even make a profit on their farms. Simultaneously, our fellow citizens struggling to put food on their table will find themselves with more opportunities for healthy, protein-rich meals.”

Source: NASDA

Pope still optimistic about Smithfield after stock sale

Smithfield Foods Inc. issued a statement to alleviate concerns about the company, following the news that C. Larry Pope, the company's president and CEO, sold 100,000 share of the company's stock to meet personal financial obligations.

“As executives are paid for performance and bonuses were not taken last year, this share sale is purely to fulfill personal commitments. Mr. Pope does not intend to sell any additional shares at this time,” the statement read. Pope still owns 222,000 shares of stock in the company and has stock options to purchase 670,000 additional shares.

Pope reiterated his enthusiasm about the future of Smithfield Foods. "Smithfield's packaged meats business is performing at record levels and profitability is already benefiting from the restructuring plan. In addition, hog production results will improve as herd reductions accelerate and supply is reduced. We continue to position the overall business for much stronger earnings and I am very optimistic about the potential earnings power of this company," said Mr. Pope.

Source: Smithfield Foods Inc.

Tyson considering expansion of Pennsylvania fresh plant

Tyson Foods is projecting an increase in production at its Wilkesboro, Pa., poultry plant, and it may lead to an expansion of the facility and an additional 300 employees. The projected 16,000-square-foot expansion to the plant will be considered by Tyson executives early next week.

Mark Welborn, complex manager, told the Wilkes (Pa.) Journal-Patriot that the plant had scaled back production but hopes to resume its normal level of 1.9 million head per week. Previously, 600,000 of those birds went to a roast chicken plant, which has closed.

"We're trying to meet consumer demand, and the bird we're processing now at this plant (with a 6.1 pound live weight average, which is the only size being processed here) is what the consumers want in the case-ready market," Welborn said. The plant's current capacity is 1.65 million birds a week. Almost half of that output will be marketed under the Holly Farms brand, which Tyson recently was being re-launched for Food Lion stores.

Welborn said the goal is to add enough capacity to process 1.9 million birds in a five-day week. "To do that, we'll need more equipment, more people and more growers," he said. "If all of the projections are accurate, we should have that in place in eight to 10 months."

Source: Wilkes Journal-Patriot

National Chicken Council elects new officers

Thomas M. Hensley, Jr., president of Fieldale Farms Corp. of Baldwin, Ga., was installed today as Chairman of the National Chicken Council, the trade association for the chicken production and processing industry. Bernard Leonard, group vice president/Food Service, Tyson Foods, Inc., Springdale, Ark., took office as Vice Chairman, and Lampkin Butts, president of Sanderson Farms, Laurel, Miss., became Secretary-Treasurer. George Watts of Alexandria, Virginia, was elected to another term as President of NCC, a post he has held since 1972.

The new officers were installed during the NCC Annual Conference held in Washington, D.C., and attended by members of the industry from across the country. Officers serve one-year terms.

Hensley moved up to chairman from vice chairman. He has served on the NCC Board since October 2001 and has worked for Fieldale Farms for 33 years, becoming president in 2008. Hensley is also a member of the board of directors of Fieldale Farms. He has been involved in a wide variety of civic, business, and professional organizations, including Salvation Army and the United Way.

Elected to one-year terms on the Executive Committee were: Lampkin Butts, Sanderson Farms, Laurel, MS; Elise Durbin, Marshall Durbin Companies, Birmingham, AL; Ron Foster, Foster Farms, Livingston, CA; Mike Helgeson, Gold’n Plump Poultry, St. Cloud, MN; Thomas M. Hensley Jr., Fieldale Farms, Baldwin, GA; Don Jackson, Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., Pittsburg, TX; Mark Kaminsky, Koch Foods, Park Ridge, IL; Bernard Leonard, Tyson Foods, Springdale, AR; Elton Maddox, Wayne Farms, Oakwood, GA; Pete Martin, Mar-Jac Poultry, Gainesville, GA; Mike Roberts, Perdue Farms, Salisbury, MD; and Tom Shelton, Case Foods, Salisbury, MD.

Elected to three-year terms on the Board of Directors were: Charles C. Allen, III, Allen Family Foods, Seaford, DE; Bennie Bishop, Peco Foods, Tuscaloosa, AL; Randall W. Goins, O. K. Foods, Fort Smith, AR; Ben Harrison, Jr., Amick Farms, Batesville-Leesville, SC; Michael Helgeson, Gold’n Plump Poultry, St. Cloud, MN; Thomas M. Hensley, Jr., Fieldale Farms, Baldwin, GA; Dan Huber, Foster Farms, Livingston, CA; Jerry Lane, Claxton Poultry Farms, Claxton, GA; Bill Lovette, Case Foods, Troutman, NC; Galen Miller, Miller Poultry, Orland, IN; Ken Pilgrim, Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., Pittsburg, TX; Donnie Smith, Tyson Foods, Springdale, AR; Don Taber, House of Raeford, Rose Hill, NC; and Michael Welch, Harrison Poultry, Bethlehem, GA.

Elected to two-year terms on the Board of Directors were: Carl George, George’s, Inc., Springdale, AR, and Jerry Wilson, Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., Pittsburg, TX.
Elected to one-year terms were Thomas Weisser, Townsends, Inc., Acworth, GA, and Paul Downes, Mountaire Farms, Millsboro, DE.
Elected to one-year terms as Directors-at-Large were: Charles Bozman, CEVA Biomune, Saint Augustine, FL; Alan Brewer, Evonik Degussa Corp., Kennesaw, GA; Randall Ennis, Aviagen North America, Huntsville, AL; Jimmy Fielding, International Paper Company, Memphis, TN; Guy Harari, Adisseo USA, Alpharetta, GA; Todd Kenning, The Linde Group, Defiance, MO; Joseph Lucas, Phibro Animal Health/Prince Agri Products, Lake Saint Louis, MO; Doug Macklin, Kemin AgriFoods, Oak Ridge, NC; Bill Melton, AgFirst Farm Credit Bank, Columbia, SC; Jim Riggsbee, Pactiv Corporation, Charlotte, NC; M. Whitner Slagsvol, Greater South Insurance Agency, Columbia, SC; and Amy Witte, Danisco USA, Fayetteville, AR.

Source: National Chicken Council