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National Hog Farmer Weekly Preview
January 11, 2010
In this issue:
  Savoring the Strength in the Hog Market
  Parity Links to Litter Size
  Senators Support COOL
  AMI Objects to Mandatory COOL

Savoring the Strength in the Hog Market
Is it demand or is it supply? That is the big question regarding the continued rally of cutout values and hog prices over recent weeks. Regardless of the driver, the resounding consensus from producers is: “We’ll take it!” In recent weeks, there have been some hogs – primarily purchased as feeder pigs – sold at a profit. It’s about time.

Figure 1 shows weekly data for national negotiated weighted average (WA) net prices and the fourth quarter rally is quite obvious. There have been Q4 rallies before, most notably in 2004, when cash prices bumped $80 in early December. But that rally died a sudden death with prices dropping to the low $60s by year’s end.

This one, on the other hand, gained strength in December and last week drove prices to $65.28/cwt. carcass, the highest level since Oct. 9, 2008. Now, negotiated prices are the most volatile of the prices reported by USDA and they represent a smaller and smaller percentage of total supplies (more on that next week). But the national WA net price for all purchase methods (Figure 2) has shown the same kind of strength, especially in the first two weeks of the New Year. The only reason the rally of the total WA price was not as dramatic as the rally for negotiated WA prices is that the total price did not get nearly as low as the negotiated price last summer – a fact owing to relatively high prices paid for hog that were priced off of feed or cost matrixes of Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Lean Hogs futures.


Parity Links to Litter Size
As we enter our second year of writing these benchmarking articles, we invite you to suggest topics you’d like to see us address. The focus for this article came from a telephone conversation we had last week with one of our clients.

The two charts (attached) are very cluttered, but they reinforce one of the problems encountered when analyzing data. Averages are nice to look at, but it is the variation that challenges the day-to -day management of a farm.


Senators Support COOL
Twenty-six senators have written Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to state their strong support for implementation of country-of-origin labeling (COOL). They commended the administration for its efforts regarding the World Trade Organization complaint filed by Canada and Mexico. The senators said, “We believe that, in a manner consistent with General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) obligations, the COOL program as signed into law in the 2008 Farm Bill is nondiscriminatory in its treatment of imported goods, mandating that both domestic and imported goods covered under the law be labeled with country of origin.” Those signing the letter were Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mike Enzi (R-WY), John Barrasso (R-WY), Max Baucus (D-MT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Richard Shelby (D-AL), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), John Tester (D-MT), John Thune (R-SD), David Vitter (R-LA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).


AMI Objects to Mandatory COOL
Mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) violates the United States’ international trade obligations that must be honored, the American Meat Institute (AMI) told the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Friday (Jan. 8).

AMI’s comments were in response to a Dec. 4, 2009 Federal Register notice. In late 2009, Canada and Mexico filed a case against the United States with the World Trade Organization (WTO), affirming their earlier outspoken opposition to the labeling law when it was being considered by Congress.

AMI Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel Mark Dopp says that equitable enforcement of international trade rules is a high priority for all parties, and that all too often, market access for U.S. meat products has been threatened or cut off with little or no legal reason.


Jan. 10-13, 2010: American Farm Bureau Federation Convention and Annual Meeting, Washington State Convention & Trade Center, Seattle, WA; contact: (202) 406-3600 or

Jan. 15-16, 2010: The 13th Annual Ag Link conference program is being offered in Ames, IA. Two, 2-day programs, sponsored by Iowa State University's Beginning Farmer Center and Iowa State University Extension, are being offered for families involved in a multiple generation farm business.

Jan. 19-22, 2010: Banff Pork Seminar, Banff, Alberta, Canada; contact:

U.S. pork producers must be able to compete in foreign markets without restrictive tariffs or sanitary barriers to trade. NPPC’s mission of gaining and expanding access to markets through free trade agreements is paramount to the continued success of the U.S. pork industry — Click here to learn more.


The news reports announcing the discovery of the H1N1 Flu Outbreak Virus on April 24, 2009 increased the urgency for proper biosecurity measures in hog operations. Producers continually face the challenge of managing the biosecurity of pigs, people, packages and pests as they redouble efforts to stave off costly swine diseases and retain their access to pork markets in this age of economic uncertainty. Click here for the complete Blueprint archive.

When two leaders come together, expect great things to happen. One-dose protection from wean to finish. That’s Ingelvac® CircoFLEX-MycoFLEX™. The only circovirus and Mycoplasma vaccines USDA-approved for mixing. The result? A true dose of confidence from two powerful leaders. Call Boehringer Ingelheim at 1-800-325-9167or click here for more information.


2009 Swine Research Review
Pigs in Bottom Nose Trailer Compartment Have More Stress, Lower Meat Quality Scores
Pigs hauled in the bottom nose compartment of a pot-belly trailer have much greater risk for higher levels of stress and poorer meat quality, according to a study at the Prairie Swine Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Higher Productivity Levels Tap Sows' Energy Reserves
Genetic selection for increased sow productivity, including number of pigs born alive, number weaned and litter weaning weight, has increased the demands for milk production during lactation. Without an increase in feed intake, lactating sows lose more body weight.
Low-Solubles Distillers Dried Grains Diets Improve Hog Carcass Fat Firmness
The rapid expansion of the U.S. ethanol industry has made dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) readily available for livestock feed. One challenge associated with DDGS feeding relates to soft fat that occurs in pork carcasses when high levels of DDGS are included in swine diets.

Our breeding technology is delivering what your operation demands, high production results across a wide range of environmental conditions. Count on the industry leader. Go to the trusted source.Click here for more information.


National Hog Farmer offers 10 posters targeting key production areas, offering guidance in critical areas such as feet and leg soundness and reproduction traits soundness in replacement gilts. Others include pig anatomy, heat detection, sow condition, etc. All posters are in English. Select posters are translated to Spanish, Chinese and Japanese.


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NPPC and the National Pork Board have launched a program, We Care, to promote pork producers' commitment to responsible pork production. From animal care and the environment to food safety and quality, pork producers demonstrate best practices daily. For more on continuing the tradition of doing what’s right, click here.

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