Competition in the Hog Industry
You are going to be hearing a lot about “competition”
in coming months. I mentioned in last week’s column the upcoming
series of USDA/DOJ (Department of Justice) workshops that commence in
just under a month with a meeting on March 12 in Ankeny, IA, that will
address crops, seed and hog/pork topics. Competition or the lack
thereof will be a constant storyline this year. A schedule of all
workshops can be found at: www.justice.gov/atr/public/workshops/ag2010/index.htm.
But what is competition? Would we know it if we see it or realize it is
missing when it is gone? Low farm prices are not necessarily an
indication of a low level of competition, even though they can be. High
input prices (or high prices of products made from farm outputs) do not
necessarily mean that competition is non-existent or insufficient.
Even the presence of large firms does not necessarily mean that
competition is absent in the marketplace, though their existence does
move us away from a purely or perfectly competitive model toward some
market structure where competitive outcomes are still quite possible but
are not guaranteed.
Producers Unite to Support Pork Exports
Seeing U.S. pork exports dampened by a sluggish global
economy, hog prices stuck below breakeven levels and access issues in
key markets, soybean producers banded together at the end of 2009 to
underwrite an aggressive U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) initiative
to bolster pork exports and improve the economic outlook for one of its
most valuable customers, the U.S. pork industry.
While the full impact of this “Pork Stimulus Package” will not be
known for several months, the early indications are that this joint
effort by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (MSR&PC),
Nebraska Soybean Board, South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion
Council and United Soybean Board (USB) will provide a boost for the
industry in several key export markets in 2010.
The Minnesota contingent (MSR&PC) got the ball rolling by volunteering
to invest an additional $800,000 toward USMEF promotions in Japan and
Mexico at the end of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010. The Nebraska
Soybean Board soon stepped forward with a commitment of $200,000 toward
the same Japan/Mexico effort. The Pork Stimulus Package gained further
momentum when USB added $250,000 for pork marketing programs in South
Korea and the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council made
an additional investment of $100,000.
Framework for Animal Disease Traceability
USDA announced the development of a new, flexible
framework for animal disease traceability in the United States. The
department will also undertake several other actions to further
strengthen its disease prevention and response capabilities. This new
approach replaces the voluntary National Animal Identification System
(NAIS). Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, “After concluding
our listening tour on the National Animal Identification System in 15
cities across the country, receiving thousands of comments from the
public and input from states, tribal nations, industry groups, and
representatives for small and organic farmers, it is apparent that a new
strategy for animal disease traceability is needed. I've decided to
revise the prior policy and offer a new approach to animal disease
traceability with changes that respond directly to the feedback we
heard." USDA’s new framework will:
Report Failed to Deliver The Real Facts on Antibiotics
Despite devoting two segments during the CBS Evening News
to the risks of antibiotics in animal agriculture, television anchor
Katie Couric’s reports were “rather short on facts and science and
long on speculation,” charges Richard Carnevale, DVM, vice president
of Regulatory, Scientific and International Affairs for the Animal
Health Institute (AHI), which represents companies that make animal
Glaringly, the reports portrayed antibiotics used in food-producing
animals as unregulated. “In fact, all antibiotics are approved by the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA), monitored for residues and for
bacteria that might end up in the meat. FDA has a very rigorous approval
process that all of these products have gone through, and they are all
subject to followup surveillance to ensure they are being properly
used,” Carnevale adds.
When used by pork producers, under the close supervision of a
veterinarian, antibiotics are “strategically placed in a pig’s life
when they may be at risk or exposed to disease,” says Liz Wagstrom,
DVM, assistant vice president of Science and Technology for the National
Feb. 17, 2010: National Swine Nutrition
Guide distributed and explained in Kansas City, Missouri. The guide
consists of nutrition fact sheets, nutrient recommendation tables and
diet formulation and evaluation software and will be included with an
$80 conference registration or available for purchase separately for
Feb. 24, 2010: National Swine Nutrition Guide
distributed and explained in Indianapolis, Indiana. The guide consists
of nutrition fact sheets, nutrient recommendation tables and diet
formulation and evaluation software and will be included with an $80
conference registration or available for purchase separately for $125.
March 4-6, 2010: Pork Forum, Kansas City, MO;
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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
here to learn more.
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