Demand Data Sends Mixed Messages
Markets are sending some very mixed messages about the
state of demand at various levels of the pork value chain. While there
are a few good reasons for the differences, our current measurements may
be suffering from some well-known data woes as well.
USDA’s retail price data for April indicate that the average price for
a pound of retail pork was $2.919. That is 0.2% higher than last
year’s $2.914/lb., but when inflation is factored in, the real retail
pork price this April is 2% lower than last year.
Lower retail prices are not necessarily bad, except that this reduction
happened at the same time that per capita pork disappearance was falling
by 3.9% vs. one year ago. Lower price and lower disappearance can mean
only one thing – lower demand. My calculations say demand was 5.3%
lower this April than it was a year ago.
That number differs a bit from the -7% demand change computed by
University of Missouri Agricultural Economist Ron Plain. The most
likely reason is that we have made different assumptions about April
exports and imports. The actual data will not be available until
mid-June. I have simply plugged in March numbers for April, assuming
exports were stable from month to month. I suspect Plain handled it
differently. Data matters.
These changes at retail are in stark contrast to price and quantity
changes at the farm and wholesale levels. April barrow and gilt
slaughter was 3.9% lower than one year ago and the April national
negotiated net price was 34.7% higher than last year. April commercial
pork production was 4% lower than last year, but the average cutout
value for April was 43% higher than last year. Both sets of numbers
suggest much higher demand at both levels.
Pigs? Check for Parasites
Consider the case where a high percentage of 40-lb. pigs
placed in a facility 10 days ago are now coughing, gaunt, thumping and
overall feed intake is decreased. Serum samples and nasal swabs from
five affected pigs are submitted to the diagnostic laboratory to rule
out swine influenza virus (SIV) and porcine reproductive and respiratory
syndrome (PRRS) virus. The polymerase chain reaction test detects PRRS
virus in serum, but SIV testing of nasal swabs turned out negative.
The purchaser of these pigs now has something (and perhaps someone) to
blame, right? But does detection of PRRS tell the whole story? Be aware
that PRRS virus acting alone does not cause pigs to cough.
To further the diagnosis, the veterinarian representing the pig source
requested a complete necropsy and diagnostic workup. The gross necropsy
findings 14 days after purchase confirmed the presence of numerous white
spots on the liver, as well as multifocal hemorrhages and craniovental
gray firmness (mycoplasma-like lesions) in the lung (Figure 1). A
diagnosis of roundworm migration (liver-lung ascarid larval migration)
is confirmed as the primary insult. PRRS virus is not identified as the
cause of the clinical signs observed.
Anticompetitive Business Practices
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack indicated that in
June, USDA will be publishing proposed regulations concerning business
practices in the meat and poultry industries. Indications are the
proposed rule will provide a more precise definition of what constitutes
an anticompetitive business practice. This proposed rule was authorized
in the livestock title of the 2008 farm bill. The bill requires USDA to
promulgate regulations concerning:
• Whether an undue or unreasonable preference or advantage has
occurred in violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act;
• Whether a live poultry dealer has provided reasonable notice to
poultry growers of any suspension of the delivery of birds under a
poultry growing arrangement;
• When a requirement of additional capital investments over the
life of a poultry growing arrangement or swine production contract
constitutes a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act; and
• If a live poultry dealer or swine contractor has provided a
reasonable period of time for a poultry grower or a swine production
contract grower to remedy a breach of contract that could lead to
termination of the poultry growing agreement or swine production
Prevention, Control of PRRS Highlighted at World Pork
A panel of experts led by American Association of Swine
Veterinarians President Paul Ruen, DVM, Fairmont (MN) Vet Clinic, will
address “Managing to Eliminate PRRS on the Farm,” at the 2010 World
Ruen and the expert panel will discuss how to maintain a sustainable and
healthy herd by providing information and symptoms on porcine
reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS). Implementing a biosecurity
plan, the effects of the disease, preventative measures, treatment
options and area control projects for PRRS will also be covered.
PRRS is a very contagious virus that spreads quickly pig to pig, via
contaminated transportation equipment and facilities, workers’ hands
and clothing and fomites. It has also been shown to travel airborne for
at least two miles.
June 8-10, 2010"Sustaining Animal
Agriculture: Balancing Bioethical, Ecnomic and Social Issues."
Jefferson Auditorium, USDA's South Agriculutre Building
For more information contact: Dave Stender by
phone (712) 225-6196, fax (712) 225-3173 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 9-11, 2010: World Pork Expo, Iowa State
De Moines, IA;
For more information contact: www.worldpork.org.
June 23, 2010: Advanced Swine Reproductive Management
Workshop Lifelong Learning Center
information contact: Dave Stender by phone (712) 225-6196, fax (712)
225-3173 or e-mail email@example.com.
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