What Do Pork Industry Organizations Contribute?

WISCONSIN - It is no secret to anyone reading this column that the pork industry continues to struggle with low market prices and high input costs, writes Tammy Vaassen (Wisconsin Pork Association).
calendar icon 9 May 2008
clock icon 4 minute read

She says that since October of 2007, the swine industry has lost, on average, $30 per head for every hog slaughtered. These losses have already been incurred for almost seven months. Economists have estimated that producers will need to reduce production by at least 10 percent, meaning a reduction of 600,000 sows, to restore profitability to the industry.

Demand for pork has remained strong, and live hog prices have rebounded by over 20 percent in just two weeks. In February of 2008, the U.S. pork industry exported 20 percent of its supply.

Now there is concern in the export market related to the availability of containers for shipment; we’ll have to wait and see what happens with this situation over the next few weeks.

Current prices would be at breakeven, which historically occurs this time of year, for many producers if their input costs were near what they were a year ago.

With this “perfect storm” taking place, WPA, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the Pork Checkoff know the time is now to take action for the benefit of our industry. Below are just a few of the steps being taken to help increase demand and help our industry during this time.

Ms. Vassen also writes that the National Pork Producers Council met last week with Ag Secretary Ed Schaefer requesting a number of actions from USDA to assist with the current crisis pork producers are facing. Those included:

  • Request for USDA to purchase an additional 50.5 million pounds of pork for various federal food programs. This would reduce the U.S. sow herd by nearly 163,600 animals

  • Implement emergency programs and loan guarantees to help producers purchase feed

  • Consider allowing early release without penalty of non-environmentally sensitive Conservation Reserve Program acres back into crop production

  • Support pork exports through USDA’s Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program.

We did receive confirmation on May 1 that the USDA will purchase up to $50 million of pork products, which will be donated to child nutrition and other domestic food assistance programs.

To help strengthen demand, the Pork Checkoff is continuing to work on behalf of pork producers through export research, food service and retail promotions, and public relations efforts to push more product through the system.

A key program, Pork on the Move, was revealed to pork producers at the National Pork Industry Forum in March.

The program entails a mobile marketing campaign that will be making appearances at high profile events and festivals across the United States starting in May. Milwaukee is one stop on the map n where Wisconsin consumers will have the opportunity to sample pork, talk to producers, and learn more about pork’s nutritional benefits and ease of preparation at the Milwaukee RiverSplash event on May 30-June 1. WPA is looking for volunteers to work at the festival, so anyone who might be interested can contact the WPA office at 800-822-7675.

2008 Pork Checkoff-funded foodservice activities include features on the menus of the following restaurants and foodservice suppliers: Chili’s Bar & Grill, Panera Bread Bakery, Cracker Barrel, Texas Roadhouse, Cheesecake Factory, and Schwan’s home delivery service.

Across the nation, 42 Pork Checkoff-funded retail promotions are planned for the first two quarters of 2008. Publix, Safeway, Kroger, Winn-Dixie, Sam's Club and SuperValu are only a few of the retail partners the Checkoff is utilizing to move an estimated 162 million pounds of pork during the first two quarters of 2008.

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