WASHINGTON — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced plans to buy up to $50 million of pork products for various federal food programs. The move to purchase the pork was applauded by the National Pork Producers Council, who said this should help struggling pork producers who have been mired in a two-year-long economic crisis.

"The action by U.S.D.A. to buy additional pork will benefit America’s pork producers, the U.S. economy and the people who rely on government food programs," said Don Butler, N.P.P.C. president. "N.P.P.C. is extremely grateful to Secretary Vilsack for recognizing the plight of our producers and for taking action to help them. The pork purchase is an important step that will help our industry bring pork supply and demand back into balance and allow producers to continue providing consumers worldwide with economical, nutritious pork products."

The U.S. pork industry has lost $5.4 billion since September 2007, with producers losing an average of more than $23 on each hog marketed, N.P.P.C. relayed.

U.S.D.A.’s pork buy is the third supplemental purchase this year. In March, it agreed to buy $25 million of pork, and in early September it bought an additional $30 million. Annually, the agency buys pork for federal food programs, including the School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. Last year, for example, U.S.D.A. purchased $62.6 million worth of pork.

N.P.P.C. also thanked Congress for its efforts to help the U.S. pork industry, particularly the 63 House and 24 Senate members who signed a letter to Mr. Vilsack, urging him to make additional purchases of pork.

"The support U.S. pork producers have received from Secretary Vilsack and many members of Congress has been tremendous and very much appreciated," said Neil Dierks, N.P.P.C. chief executive officer. "And this latest purchase of pork should provide some relief to our industry and to rural America."