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Land Release Decision Disappoints US Pork Industry

by 5m Editor
30 July 2008, at 9:41am

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Stating that it will have adverse consequences for the U.S. pork industry, the National Pork Producers Council expressed extreme disappointment over the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision today not to release land from the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to address the need for more acres in crop production to meet the growing demands for food, feed and fuel.

Pork producers have lost an average of $20 per hog since the start of this year because of lower feed supplies – and higher prices – driven by the ethanol industry’s demand for corn, which has grown by 1 billion bushels over last year. Ethanol production is predicted to use about one-third of the U.S. corn crop in 2008, up from 22 percent last year, and the demand is expected to grow by as much as 1.4 billion to 1.9 billion bushels in 2009.

“We are cutting back our swine herd and production by as much as 10 percent over the next several months, and even then we will need more acres and more corn in 2009 to meet the demands of ethanol producers and other users and to feed this smaller herd,” said NPPC President Bryan Black, a pork producer from Canal Winchester, Ohio. “Without these CRP acres, which can be responsibly farmed using today’s modern techniques to prevent soil erosion and protect the environment, we will have no ability to grow our industry to respond to worldwide demand. Pork producers are deeply disappointed by USDA’s short-sighted decision.”

According to NPPC, an additional 5 million to 7 million corn acres will be needed in 2009 to meet the ethanol industry’s demands and to keep the U.S. pork industry from contracting even more than the 10 percent predicted by many over the next several months.

“That 5 to 7 million acres will allow us just to keep our heads above water going into 2010,” Black said, “but that only works if we have strong corn yields in 2009. Bad weather next year, without additional CRP acres in production, will again mean producers going out of business and even further consolidation in the pork industry.

“We are extremely disappointed that USDA is willing to take this kind of risk with pork producers’ livelihoods and not work to find a way to bring enough of the right CRP acres back into production in the right way to bring some relief to all corn users,” added Black.

Created in 1985, the CRP is a land reserve program that gives farmers an annual rental payment to take acres out of crop production and use them for conservation purposes for 10 years. There are approximately 34 million crop acres in the program today.

5m Editor