The American Farm Bureau Federation has asked the Agriculture Department to make additional Section 32 purchases of pork to help provide some stability for the sector, as well as supply the healthy protein source to users of the nation’s nutrition programs.

“Additional Section 32 purchases would help the pork industry at this critical time,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer. “We request that you evaluate such a purchase for the benefits it would provide both producers and consumers.”

Section 32 is a permanent appropriation USDA uses to support non-farm program commodities while enhancing nutrition programs. The purchases could help the pork industry during a crucial time, said Stallman.

According to AFBF, prices for live market hogs have plunged to levels not seen in nearly a decade. On April 1, wholesale pork prices hit their lowest level in four years at $54.87 per hundredweight, only to rebound somewhat later in the week. Yet, despite the small increase, producers still face uncertainty and a dismal outlook for their industry, Stallman said.