WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to purchase approximately $87 million worth of turkey, pork and lamb for federal food nutrition assistance programs, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on March 31. These purchases will assist the turkey, pork, lamb and walnut sectors, which are currently struggling due to depressed market conditions, Mr. Vilsack said.

U.S.D.A. intends to spend $60 million on turkey products, $25 million for pork, $2 million of lamb and $29.7 million of walnuts. The agency will survey potential suppliers to seeking the lowest overall cost by publicly inviting bids and awarding contracts to responsible bidders.

A variety of high-quality food products are purchased 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. U.S.D.A. also makes emergency food purchases for distribution to victims of natural disasters.

Food items are normally required to be low in fat, sugar and sodium. The commodities must also meet specified grade requirements and be U.S.D.A.-certified to ensure quality. The agency only purchases products that are grown in America.

"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," Mr. Vilsack said.

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