WASHINGTON (March 31, 2009) Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture's intention to purchase turkey, pork, lamb, and walnut products for federal food nutrition assistance programs.

"These purchases will assist the turkey, pork, lamb and walnut sectors, which are currently struggling due to depressed market conditions," Vilsack said. "Today's announcement will help mitigate further downward prices, stabilize market conditions, stimulate the economy, and provide high quality, nutritious food to recipients of our nutrition programs."

The USDA intends to purchase $60 million of turkey, $25 million of pork, $2 million of lamb and $29.7 million of walnuts. With today's announcement to buy commodities, the USDA will survey potential suppliers to seeking the lowest overall cost by publicly inviting bids and awarding contracts to responsible bidders.

These purchases reflect 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. The USDA also makes emergency food purchases for distribution to victims of natural disasters.

Government food experts work to ensure that all purchased food is healthy and nutritious. Food items are normally required to be low in fat, sugar and sodium. The commodities must meet specified grade requirements and be USDA-certified to ensure quality. The USDA only purchases products that are grown in America.

For more information on purchase details, interested suppliers should contact the appropriate Contracting Officer for each commodity program, which can be found on the AMS Commodity Procurement webpage.

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This article was submitted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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