U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge today announced that federal assistance is now available for poultry farmers who lost contracts because their poultry dealer filed for bankruptcy. Poultry producers can apply for federal relief through Poultry Loss Contract Grant Assistance Program. The assistance is administered by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. $60 million in funds have been made available by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency.
"For two years I've called on the USDA to support our poultry farmers who lost a contract through no fault of their own and today we are getting much needed relief," said Etheridge. "Agriculture is the number one industry in this state, and these grants will put farmers back on their feet so they can produce the food and jobs our country depends on."
Since Pilgrim's Pride declared bankruptcy in 2008, Etheridge has written to Secretary Tom Vilsack and has repeatedly urged the USDA to make this funding available to poultry farmers who lost their contracts. He introduced legislation to provide poultry farmers with similar bridge funding, which was included in legislation passed by the House. Like the USDA grant, the legislation was designed to provide assistance to poultry farmers who lost their contracts due to a processing plant declaring bankruptcy.
To be eligible for assistance, a poultry farmer must have had a poultry growing arrangement with a live poultry dealer that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2008. The grower must have had his contract with a bankrupt live poultry dealer terminated between May 1, 2008, and July 1, 2010. Also, the grower must not have entered into a poultry growing arrangement with any live poultry dealer for one month after the contract was terminated.
The NCDA&CS is conducting three free workshops for poultry growers interested in the assistance program. Dates, times and locations are as follows:
* Monday, Nov. 1, 1-3 p.m., Richmond County Cooperative Extension office, 123 Caroline St., Rockingham, (910) 997-8255;
* Tuesday, Nov. 9, 6:30-9 p.m., Chatham County Cooperative Extension office, 45 South St., Pittsboro, (919) 542-8202;
* Wednesday, Nov. 10, 6:30-9 p.m., Harnett County Cooperative Extension office, 126 Alexander Drive, Lillington, (910) 893-7530.
"As a part-time farmer I understand the difficulties our farmers face. From droughts, to decreased demand, to lost contracts due to a company's bankruptcy, disasters can come in many forms," said Etheridge. "I will continue my strong support for our farmers because whether it is jobs or food, America depends on agriculture."