U.S. Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin joined an informal Chicken Caucus of senators Monday to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to step up efforts to help the mid-Atlantic poultry industry cope with the economic impact of drought.
Mikulski and Cardin, both Democrats, urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to direct funds to poultry farmers, contending that the price of corn has soared by as much as 60 percent because of dry conditions in the Midwestern grain belt.
The Maryland senators were joined by their Democratic Delaware colleagues, Sens. Chris Coons and Tom Carper, as well as North Carolina Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan.
In their letter, the senators praised the department for its recent bonus purchase of $50 million in chicken products and its declaration of an emergency for counties affected by the drought. But the lawmakers urged the secreatry to take other steps, including reprogramming funds, providing loan options, compensating farmers for economic losses and making additional purchases of poultry products for the Defense Deparment.