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National Hog Farmer Weekly Preview
January 16, 2012
In this issue:
  USDA Corn Stocks Report Throws Another Curve Ball
  The Year of the (Export) Pig
  USDA to Close over 250 Offices
  Time to Register for the 2012 National Pork Industry Forum

USDA Corn Stocks Report Throws Another Curve Ball
By Steve Meyer, Paragon Economics, Inc., Des Moines, IA

Sometimes, it is best to not ask “why” a situation looks a bit screwy, but rather to simply take advantage of it and move on. Such may be the case with the USDA’s World Agricultural Supply & Demand Estimates (WASDE) and Grain Stocks reports released last week.

Figure 1 shows the latest domestic production, supply and demand data for corn from USDA. The numbers were somewhat bearish in that they indeed suggest higher output and, thus, larger supplies for the current crop year. The new yield estimate of 147.2/acre is 0.5 bushels larger than the December estimate and a whole bushel higher than the average of analysts’ pre-report expectations. However, in the big picture, the impact on the estimated crop is pretty marginal as the additional 48 million bushels is completely removed by a 50-million bushel increase in projected exports. The net impact is a reduction in year-end projected stocks of only 2 million bushels, leaving the projected year-end stocks-to-use ratio at 6.7%. None of those are enough to change markets much, even though USDA did shave 20 cents/bushel off of both ends of its forecast range for the average U.S. farm price.

The surprise, and thus the primary source of Thursday and Friday’s price declines, was USDA’s estimate that 9.641 billion bushels of corn remained in storage in the United States on Dec. 1. As Figure 2 shows, that was 250 million bushels (2.7%) higher than the average of analysts’ pre-report estimates and nearly beyond the top of the analysts’ range (9.7 billion bushels). That extra corn is available to the market, thus easing availability concerns and causing prices to fall.


The Year of the (Export) Pig
By Jim Herlihy, U.S. Meat Export Federation, Denver, CO

In the Chinese zodiac, the last official “year of the pig” ended in early 2008, which was a record-setting year for U.S. pork exports. Based on the latest export numbers, however, 2011 will have to be considered as America’s “year of the export pig.”

November was yet another record-setting month for U.S. pork exports, boosting totals for the first 11 months of 2011 to more than $5.5 billion. This marked the first time U.S. pork export value has topped $5 billion in a single year, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Total pork exports (muscle cuts plus variety meat) in November were 217,080 metric tons (478.6 million pounds) valued at $597.8 million. This equated to nearly 29% of overall pork production and resulted in a per-head export value of $59.98, another new record.


USDA to Close over 250 Offices
By P. Scott Shearer, Bockorny Group, Washington DC

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced USDA's plans to overhaul the USDA agency’s operations. The “Blueprint for Stronger Service” is the result of a department-wide review of operations conducted as part of the administration's "Campaign to Cut Waste." Under the plan, 259 USDA domestic offices, facilities, labs and seven foreign offices will be closed. USDA estimates $140 million will be saved annually. Secretary Vilsack said, "The USDA, like families and businesses across the country, cannot continue to operate like we did 50 years ago. We must innovate, modernize and be better stewards of the taxpayers' dollars. We must build on the accomplishments of farm communities in 2011 with a stronger, more effective USDA in 2012 and beyond." The office closings include:

• Farm Service Agency (FSA): Consolidate 131 county offices in 32 states; more than 2,100 FSA offices remain throughout the United States.

• Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS): Close two country offices; more than 95 FAS offices remain throughout the world.


Time to Register for the 2012 National Pork Industry Forum
By Joe Vansickle, Senior Editor

Registration is now open for the 2012 National Pork Industry Forum to be held March 1-3 at Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center, Denver, CO.

The 15 producers who serve as members of the National Pork Board receive direction from the deliberations of the Pork Act Delegates. The delegates provide views on the important issues facing pork producers and the pork industry, and on how they would like to see the Pork Checkoff dollars invested.

The theme of this year’s forum is “America's Pork Producers: Building A Better Tomorrow.” The theme follows a year of celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Pork Checkoff, noting the accomplishments during that time, and focusing on what producers can do to assure a prosperous future. Pork producers have a track record of doing what it takes to get better: from producing safer meat to improving environmental practices; to adopting new techniques that provide better care for their animals.


January 18-19: Minnesota Pork Congress is slated for Jan. 18-19, 2012 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. It runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 18 and from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Jan. 19. For online registration, seminars, exhibitor listing, hotel information and maps, go to or call (800) 537-7675.

January 25-26: The Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) will hold the 2012 Iowa Pork Congress Jan. 25 and 26 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines

February 2-3: For the third year in a row, the North Carolina Pork Conference, hosted by the North Carolina Pork Council (NCPC), will be held in conjunction with the Southern Farm Show at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh on Feb. 2-3, 2012. A block of rooms is reserved at the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley for the conference; call (800) 228-9290 or (919) 781-7000.

February 8-9: The Missouri Pork Expo kicks off Feb. 8 with a talk on Global Markets, Domestic Impact by Joseph Kerns of International Agribusiness Group, LLC, Ames, IA. For more information, contact MPA by phone at (573) 445-8375, e-mail or visit

March 19-21: Annual meeting of the Midwestern Sections of the American Dairy Science Association and the American Society of Animal Science, Hy-Vee Hall and Veterans Memorial, Des Moines, IA. For more information contact:



The October 15, 2011 Blueprint edition of National Hog Farmer tackles the new industry target of 30 pigs/sow/year (P/S/Y). As producers strive to achieve the lofty milestone, new challenges and new debates arise. With the push to increase reproductive efficiency, the health and dietary demands on sows becomes increasingly important, the impact on pig flow and facilities is magnified, and the bar to capture full genetic potential is raised. This special edition and more is posted at

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All facets of the pork industry are being challenged to maximize lean growth while finding new ways to utilize a broad array of feed ingredients without sacrificing growth, feed conversion or carcass quality. The January 15, 2012 edition of National Hog Farmer takes a hard look at the relationships between gain, feed efficiency and optimal profitability. Those articles and more are available at

The Strategic Investment Program (SIP) is the primary source of funds for the National Pork Producers Council. As an investor, you will help NPPC fight for reasonable legislation and regulation, develop revenue and market opportunities and protect livelihoods. SIP investors have a voice in NPPC policy development. Learn more.


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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