Exports Can’t Compete With 2008
July pork export data, released on Thursday by USDA’s
Foreign Agricultural Service (product weight and value) and on Friday by
USDA’s Economic Research Service (carcass weight equivalent), indicate
that U.S. pork exports for 2009 still suffer from the “older, smarter
brother” syndrome with respect to 2008: They just are never going to
To illustrate that point, consider total pork exports for July in
carcass weight equivalent – 355.6236 million pounds. That number is
13.2% below last July’s 409.5 million pounds, but is 61.6% higher than
July 2007 exports. And the July 2007 total of 220 million pounds was
just 5 million pounds below the largest July total in history. And I
repeat: This year blew July 2007 away by over 60%. It is only the
comparison with the remarkable totals of 2008 that look bad. It’s
hard to measure up to a smarter, older brother.
Figure 1 demonstrates the exceptional performance of U.S. pork exports
relative to any year other than 2008. As can be seen, the only months
so far in 2009 that have been below the 2004-07 trend for pork exports
are May and June. July was above that trend line by over 30 million
pounds and was very near the polynomial trend line that best fits all
monthly data since 1990. If not for the export spike of April –July
2008, we would be dancing in the streets over July exports!
Production Performance – Is Bigger Better?
Occasionally, we are asked whether farm size affects
production, so we decided to take a closer look.
We divided the Swine Management Systems’ data set into four groups
(see attached). The size breaks are:
• Chart 1: under 1,000 mated females (141 farms);
The farms selected had to be in full production for 3+ years and
producing 22+ pigs weaned/mated female for the last three years. Of the
619 farms in the database, 397 met those criteria (64%). The size
groups in Charts 1-4 are broken out by pigs weaned/mated female/year
(PW/MF/Y) for the most recent 12 quarters.
• Chart 2: 1,000 -1,999 mated females (130 farms);
• Chart 3: 2,000-2,999 mated females (94 farms), and
• Chart 4: over 3,000 mated females (32 farms).
There are some interesting trends in the data sets.
• Chart 1(under 1,000 mated females) shows very consistent
production at 24+ pigs weaned, with very little improvement.
• Chart 2 (1,000-1,999 mated females) shows a trend of steady
improvement, gaining almost one pig weaned/mated female.
• Chart 3 (2,000-2,999 mated females) has a trend line of very
steady improvement, going from 23.51 to 24.88 PW/MF in the last quarter
of the period.
• Chart 4 (over 3,000 mated females) has some quarterly variation,
but still showed the most improvement at 1.80+ PW/MF over the 12
Senate Ag Chairman Named
Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) is the new chairwoman of
the Senate Agriculture Committee. She takes over from Senator Tom
Harkin (D-IA), who replaces Senator Ted Kennedy as chairman of the
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee. Senator Lincoln
said, “The committee’s responsibilities encompass a number of issues
that are critical to Americans, particularly those living in rural
areas. With such priorities as child nutrition reauthorization, farm
bill implementation and regulation of commodities, the committee has a
full plate. I thank Senator Harkin for his tremendous leadership. As
chairman, I will work with my colleagues to build upon the committee’s
strong record and devote my full energy to producing forward-looking,
balanced priorities on behalf of all families and communities. I will
continue to fight for the hardworking farm families and rural
communities who provide the safest, most abundant and affordable supply
of food and fiber in the world.” Senator Lincoln has been a strong
advocate of farm programs; opposed various payment limitation proposals;
and, opposed the packer ban proposal in the 2008 farm bill.
Free Trade Agreements Good for Agriculture — The Government
Accountability Office (GAO) examined four free trade agreements (FTA)
and found that they have benefited the American economy, with
agriculture being a big winner. The GAO said, “Among sectors, we
found that U.S. agricultural exports, such as wheat, corn, rice, edible
fruits and nuts and dairy products, grew substantially post-FTA in
several partner countries, with U.S. market share gaining against major
trading partners.” The existing FTAs studied by GAO were Chile,
Jordan, Morocco and Singapore. According to the report, U.S.
agricultural exports to Chile increased from $25 million in 2004 to $256
million three years later. During that time, U.S. share of Chile’s
imports of agricultural products grew from 6% to 26%.
Beef Export Sales Remain Sluggish in July
U.S. Pigs for Novel H1N1 Flu Turns up Potential Positives
Lingering effects of the H1N1 influenza virus
continue to produce sales of U.S. pork and beef products that lag behind
last year’s pace for the first six months of the year, according to
the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Agriculture Department statistics show pork
exports of 2.38 billion pounds valued at $2.53 billion, 10% and 9%
respectively, below last year’s record pace, but still 53% higher in
volume and 48% higher in value than in January-July 2007.
Japan remains the leader for U.S. pork
exports in terms of value in 2009, reaching 572 million pounds
worth $944.1 million through July. Volume only slightly exceeds figures
for 2008, but value exceeds last year’s total by 11%.
The Agriculture Department’s National Veterinary
Services Laboratory (NVSL), Ames, IA, is working to confirm a
preliminary diagnosis of novel H1N1 pandemic flu
virus in swine samples collected during the Minnesota State Fair
between Aug. 26 and Sept. 1.
If the samples prove to be positive, it would be the first diagnosis
of the novel flu virus in U.S. swine.
The virus has circulated widely in the human population worldwide since
it was first discovered in April 2009.
“Like people, swine routinely get sick or contract influenza
viruses. We currently are testing the Minnesota
samples to determine if this is pandemic H1N1 influenza,” says
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We are working in partnership
with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as our animal
and public health
colleagues and will continue to provide information as it becomes
Sept. 15-16, 2009: 70th University of
Minnesota Nutrition Conference, Holiday Inn, Owatonna, MN; contact: http://www.ansci.umn.edu/mnc.html.
Sept. 19-22, 2009: Allen D. Leman Swine Conference,
RiverCentre Conference Facility, St. Paul, MN; contact: www.cvm.umn.edu/outreach.
Oct. 6-7, 2009: The Center for Food Integrity’s 2009
Food System Summit, Hilton Kansas City Airport Hotel, Kansas City, MO;
contact: Jim Fallon at (816) 556-3129 or visit www.foodintegrity.org.
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