Inmates in America’s federal prisons must like bacon after all.
The Bureau of Prisons reversed its plans to get rid of all pork products after announcing only a week ago that it was banning pork from all of its 122 prisons.
The bureau didn’t offer a reason for its about-face, but the decision came shortly after a senator submitted a complaint. A prison bureau spokesman said he would not comment on the change in plans, saying he wasn’t cleared to answer reporter’s questions on the issue
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who submitted the complaint, said such a decision would have an adverse effect on Iowa’s farm economy. Grassley is chair of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees federal prisons.
“The pork industry is responsible for 547,800 jobs, which creates $22.3 billion in personal incomes and contributes $39 billion to the gross domestic product,” Grassley said in his letter to Bureau of Prisons Director Charles E. Samuels. He added that such a decision could hurt those employed in the pork industry.
Grassley said he is suspicious of claims that inmates simply do not want pork products. A Bureau of Prison spokesman said inmate consumption of pork had dropped. The only item that remained on the menu prior to last week’s ban was pork roast. Now, prison bureau officials said bacon, pork chops and sausage will make a comeback to the prison menu.
Another reason for the ban, according to prison officials, was the growing cost of pork. NASDAQ is reporting that hog prices will remain flat. Prices have risen steadily since August, but U.S. packer bids for hogs were lower in the major regions this week, according to reports. The retail price ranges from $1.50 to $2.50 per pound, depending on the cut, according to USDA reports.
Pork prices are actually lower this year than in 2014, according to government records. A virus outbreak in the fall of 2013 reduced inventories, and prices hit a peak at the beginning of 2014, according to USDA reports.