Pork Commentary: Flu Damage

CANADA - This weeks North American Pork Commentary from Jim Long.
calendar icon 5 May 2009
clock icon 5 minute read

The wizards decided to term it swine flu. Talk about getting a punch in the stomach. Our industry pounded for two plus years by negative margins with our losses significantly enhanced by government subsidies making corn ethanol. Now we get further government harassment. The total failure of government authorities to provide leadership in the naming of this flu is criminal. They controlled the name but despite no evidence that the 2009 influenza has anything to do with swine. They allowed it to be used until it was too late. The damage to the markets have been swift with hogs dropping $20.00 per head last week. In our opinion, if there is stimulus money to bail out banks and car companies from their own stupidity and greed, it would be more than justified to financially compensate swine producers for their losses attributed to the 2009 flu. It’s about fairness. The NPPC in our opinion should be full throttle at Ag – Secretary Vilsack, Senators Harkin and Grassly et al. The USA government has proven it will help foreign bond holders, foreign shareholders in banks, and support unions to buy car companies. Maybe it’s time to financially support American hog producers.

The hysterical news reports if not so damaging would be hilarious! 35,000 Americans die of the flu per year, about 100 per day, 150 Americans die in vehicle crashes per day. Any sense of proportion has been lost. The meat puppets that read nightly news have little sense of what is relevant. Came from Pigs? Anyone of them wonder why it appears out of the 500,000 workers in the North American Swine Industry, not one is sick from pigs? Too simple for these simpletons. The only good thing it appears flu is Y2K. Remember all computers were going to stop on 1 January 2000. Billions were getting spent by some, none by others. The only difference: 2 January, money spent - money gone! The meat puppets quickly moved on their next contrived crisis. 24/7 news channels need new crisis’s like addicts need crack cocaine. They can’t live without them.

Last Wednesday, we were in Chicago O’Hare Airport. CNN was on the TVs in the waiting area yammering about the 2009 flu. Of course we were watching as our livelihood is in play. After a while we looked around and realized of the 34 people who were in position to watch the two televisions we were the only ones watching. Why? We don’t know. Maybe the crying wolf of crisis after crisis has numbed people from paying attention. Maybe the old song 99 channels and nothing on is true. We were watching because it’s our livelihood on the line. It’s personal. If it was sheep flu we’d pay less attention like the others. If our premise is true, if this story gets over quick with no more dead people to fuel the news, the markets will recover. As they say “no news is good news.

1976 Flu

In 1976 there was a major swine flu scare in the United States. History tells us it was a fiasco. Sound familiar?

History tells us one soldier died in Fort Dix New Jersey in February 1976. President Ford then announced soon after a $135 million plan to inoculate every man, woman, and child in the United States. There was fear of a 1918 like pandemic (sound familiar).

Drug companies swiftly stepped up to make the vaccines (follow the money trail). The drug companies demanded and received immunity from civil suits that might rise from complications. And arise they did! Within months, a spike in cases of paralysis from Gillian – Barre Syndrome was reported including 25 deaths. The cases were quickly pinned on the vaccine and the USA government spent $90 billion settling lawsuits. Drug companies were scot free!

In all 45 million Americans received the vaccines. 25 presumably died from the vaccine. In the end there was one death from the flu – the soldier in Fort Dix, and a couple hundred got sick.

A lot of noise and money in the end spent about nothing. Do we ever learn?!

Of note on the hog prices in February 1976 the USA averaged 47.70 liveweight. January had been 46.60.

January 46.60
February 47.70
March 45.80
April 47.10
May 48.90

Hog prices held in 1976 during the flu scare and showed no long term damage. The big difference in 2009 is we now depend on export market access. Let’s hope WTO regulations are honored as there is no health danger in pork exports.

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