WPE REPORT: Cuts Expected in US Pig Herd, Producers

US - The US pig herd is expected to be reduced by between three and five per cent in the coming months because of the difficult economic times in the industry, writes ThePigSite senior editor, Chris Harris, reporting from the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa.
calendar icon 4 June 2009
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Don Butler, president of the National Pork Producers' Council reporting on the state of the US pig industry the opening of the Expo that the US pork industry is experiencing "extreme stress and hardship".

And it is certain to expect contraction over the coming months.

He said the NPPC had been working tirelessly to keep open export markets, which had helped to support the domestic industry.

The council had also been successful in obtaining $50 million in aid from the USDA in May last year and then another $25 million in aid from the current US administration in support to buy pork for food aid programmes.

Mr Butler said that the industry had been hit severely by irrational media frenzy surrounding the outbreak of H1N1 influenza that had been labelled as swine flu.

"It caused major concern among consumers," he said.

"But a lot of trading partners have reduced the4n products they have been buying knowing full well that the pork was safe to eat."

Despite the dip in consumption following the scare that started in April, consumer demand has virtually returned to normal.

Mr Butler said the pig producers were experiencing a loss of $8 million a day following the influenza announcement in April.

The NPPC forecasts that the industry could lose up to $25.6 million a week up to the end of the year.

Larger problems are now facing the industry because producers' credit worthiness is starting to be questioned by financial institutions.

"We are going to lose producers from the industry over the next six months," said Mr Butler.

"The NPPC is going to do everything to assist producers, but we don't have a silver bullet."

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