Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pork industry, in crisis, pleads for federal help

The pork industry asked for help from Congress today, saying "It is suffering its worst economic crisis ever," Tom Johnston reports for MeatingPlace. "The National Pork Producers Council and other industry representatives presented a bleak picture to the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture's Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry."

The council said its members have lost $23 a head in the last two years, and noted "Chicago Mercantile Exchange data pointing to losses of more than $30 per head for the remainder of the year, and $40 per head in November," Johnston reports. NPPC President Don Butler said the crisis has been caused mainly by higher feed prices, which the group blames mainly on corn-based ethanol. Johnston adds, "Exacerbating the problem has been bans on U.S. pork by countries citing H1N1," widely reported as "swine flu," though humans cannot contract the disease by eating pork.

The industry wants the federal government to buy more pork for food-assistance programs, push to keep open or re-open export markets, pass free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, allow ethanol subsidies to expire, and avoid new regulations that would increase producers' costs. (Read more)

The CEO of Seaboard Foods told the subcommittee that the Department of Agriculture needs to buy more pork immediately, but Deputy Agriculture Undersecretary Michael Scuse told the subcommittee that USDA would decide in the next two months whether to increase pork purchases, Charles Abbott reports for Reuters and Alan Bjerga reports for Bloomberg News. "USDA may have less to spend on pork this year because of fiscal restraints, Vilsack said in an interview last week," Bjerga notes. "He said the department is reviewing its plans for this year with an eye toward maximizing available funds for pork producers." (Read more)

1 comment:

ivan said...

when we talk about "pork farmers" aren't we talking about people on contract to giant meat packers? maybe if we possibly could go back to farmers with cornfields also have a lot full of hogs they'd make money on both the corn and the pigs, and people who eat pork wouldn't be getting a belly full of antibiotics with their pork chop. so, maybe we'd see more people eating high on the hog.