Governors ask USDA to buy $50M more in pork

Governors from Nebraska and eight other states are asking the Obama Administration to provide more federal help to pork producers. They want the U-S-D-A buy an additional $50-million worth of pork for government programs that provide food for the needy. The governors say it’s crucial U.S. negotiators work to re-open key foreign markets that closed to U.S. pork after the newest strain of the flu was initially called the “swine” flu.

Neil Dierks, C-E-O of the National Pork Producers Council, says for the past two years, farmers have been losing about 21 dollars for every pig sold. “The outlook right now is very bleak,” Dierks says, “and people are having to make decisions, basically, about their financial wherewithal and where they’re going to go in the future.”

Gary Machan is in charge of buying hogs for the Midwestern meatpacking plants that Tyson owns. “We certainly, as an industry, miss the robust exports we had a year ago and, as a result, along with the economic conditions — the global recession as well as our domestic economic downturn — it’s created a demand that’s much weaker than it was a year ago and certainly, then, much lower prices,” Machan says.

Market analyst Steve Meyer says while every sector of American agriculture has been suffering, the pork industry had its second worst year ever in 2008. “Ironically, it occurred during the year when the average price that pork producers received for their pigs was the third-highest in history,” Meyer says. “So the primary reason for this huge drain of producer equity is extremely high costs, mainly in the form of corn and soybean meal.”

Producers haven’t been able to recover financially in 2009 and Meyer warns the financial pinch pork producers are feeling is being felt well throughout rural America. The governors of Iowa, Colorado, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska and Oklahoma co-signed a letter that was sent to President Obama last Friday.

There are currently 73-thousand pork producers in the United States.

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