The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it will buy up to $35 million of turkey products for federal food nutrition assistance programs, including food banks in an effort to help turkey companies like Cargill and Butterball that have poultry operations in Northwest Arkansas as well as in Ozark.
USDA said turkey producers have been profitable with current whole turkey prices, but may only break even or come in below profitability in the fourth quarter if feed prices remain equal to current December feed prices. Turkey processor has seen their production costs rise above the break-even selling wholesale prices.
“The purchase will help mitigate further downward prices, stabilize market conditions and provide high quality, nutritious food to recipients of USDA's nutrition programs, according to Edward Avalos, under secretary for the agency.
USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service buys a variety of food products annually 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.