WASHINGTON – Five US Senators are urging Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack give more help to poultry producers who have been hurt by surging feed prices brought on by the drought.

"We encourage you to use your existing authority to explore as many options possible, including reprogramming funds, providing additional loan options, providing compensation for economic losses, enhancing corn supplies, compensating for feed and poultry transportation costs, and a bonus purchase of turkey products in order to assist poultry producers and companies," the senators wrote in a letter to Vilsack.

The legislators also encouraged Vilsack to work Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on increasing purchases of poultry through the Defense Department's purchasing system.

"Given the August 10th reports from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) showing that corn yield estimates have declined further to 123.4 bushels per acre, corn prices are expected to be between $7.50 and $8.90 per bushel, and poultry production is expected to decline in 2013, it is critical that we provide a safety net for the poultry industry and protect jobs and rural economies across the country," the legislators wrote.

Senators who signed the letter include Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Kay Hagan (D-NC).