APRIL 30, 2009
Pork Producers Ache From Swine Flu
By CURT THACKER
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Declining hog prices amid the swine-flu outbreak could spawn losses of more than a quarter of a billion dollars and be the last straw for some U.S. pork producers.
Questions surrounding the disease and the word swine in the name have contributed to losses in lean hog futures, leading to lower cash prices and to declines in wholesale pork values.
U.S. hog producers have lost money in 16 of the past 18 months, and they needed prices to be profitable during the spring and summer. Cases of swine flu, however, have led to import bans by some countries on pork produced in a number of U.S. states and Mexico.
U.S. government officials are considering a change to the disease's current moniker. Swine flu makes some people think they can get the disease from pigs or pork, said acting CDC Director Richard Besser.
"That's not helpful to pork producers. That's not helpful to people who eat pork," he said.
Pork remains safe to eat, and the virus hasn't been found in U.S. hogs, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Read More
The outbreak of a flu virus that was misnamed might put some of our nations hog farming families out of business. Because of unfounded fears by not only consumers, but also some of our trading partners, the prices received for hogs has taken another hit. It’s shameful that our government has tiptoed around the subject. Some agencies are referring to it correctly as H1N1, but the media has been slow to get the hint. If you hear the media in your area incorrectly using the term swine flu, take the time to contact them and se them straight. All the little things we do can make a big difference, and undoubtedly our hog farmers will appreciate it.