Pork Commentary: Back to Reality - And It Isn't Pretty

by 5m Editor
28 October 2009, at 8:36am

CANADA - This week's North American Pork Commentary from Jim Long.

After being in Russia for two weeks and being with producers making $100 per head it’s a wicked dose of reality coming back home to the train wreck we are experiencing in our markets. Iowa – Minnesota last Friday was 51.09 lean average. This means most producers are losing $25.00 per head. The H1N1 (swine flu) trouble continues to pound our product daily. Hour after hour of talking heads drumming up a pandemic. No wars to start so they need something to talk about. Some supposed facts we came across:

  • 250,000 to 500,000 worldwide die each year from seasonal influenza, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

  • 399,232 number of confirmed H1N1 influenza cases as of 11 October (WHO).

  • 4,735 number of reported deaths associated with H1N1 influenza as of 11 October (WHO).

  • H1N1 has killed fewer people (4,735) over the past six months than the seasonal flu kills every six days (700 per day).

  • Remember in 2005 the United Nations “flu czar” frightened the world when he announced that the Avian Flu could kill as many as 150 million worldwide.
    EDITORS NOTE: He was wrong! Avian Flu! Swine Flu! Cattle or sheep better look out – You’re next!

  • This is a great opportunity for the drug industry. Vaccines are on the way, they probably need to get them out fast so that the billions being spent can get burned up before the real reality sets in – it is a mild flu.

Meanwhile the thousands of people in the swine industry get hammered financially by a wrong moniker. 26 months of losses in the billions have now been extended and magnified. Where Washington helped Wall Street in a crisis created by their greed and stupidity. Hog producers are left to fend for themselves with no financial support of significance and tepid efforts to maintain pork export markets. Shut down by H1N1 fears.

There is money (subsidies) to burn corn as ethanol, and tariffs to protect them. There is nothing for livestock. Every society’s standard of living can be measured by its meat protein consumption. The higher the consumption the better the standard of living. We are now approaching an almost systematic attack pushing our costs higher (corn) and demand lower (swine flu, market access); little is being done by our elected officials to protect us. It is sad and it is wrong.

Meanwhile, sow liquidation continues with each week more people running out of capital and/or courage. There will be less hogs in the future. Prices will recover. When they do it will be with a vengeance. Like mad cow, like avian flu, people will soon forget.