WASHINGTON – A significant surplus of dark meat chicken in cold storage prompted the US Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Marketing Service to announce a special purchase plan for the chicken products.

Chicken leg quarters on June 30, 2013, had reached 138.7 million lbs., a 157 percent increase over inventory a year ago, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Mike Brown, president of the National Chicken Council, wrote a letter to US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting a special purchase program for dark meat chicken before Sept. 12, the end of the fiscal year.

“While the over-supply of dark meat is a burden to producers/processors, it is, at the same time, an excellent opportunity to provide high-quality, wholesome protein to recipients who may not be economically able to benefit from this product,” Brown said. “Such a timely purchase program will prove to be a most worthwhile measure to help balance the white meat/dark meat situation for the chicken market.”

USDA said the solicitation will be issued for deliveries from Nov. 1, 2013, through Feb. 28, 2014.