National Hog Farmer is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

World Animal Health Body Says Swine Flu Wrong Name

The influenza strain that is causing concern around the world should not be called “swine flu” as it also contains avian and human components, and no pig has been found ill with this virus so far, The Office of International Epizootics (OIE) said today.

A more logical name for the new flu would be “North American influenza,” a name based on its geographic origin, just like the Spanish influenza, a human flu pandemic with animal origin that killed more than 50 million people in 1918-1919.

“The virus has not been isolated in animals to date. Therefore, it is not justified to name this disease swine influenza,” the Paris-based group said in a statement.

So far this latest incident has resulted in the deaths of 103 people in Mexico, while much milder infections have been reported in the United States and Canada. The influenza strain has also been reported as far away as Europe, Israel and New Zealand.

The OIE warned that if the virus was shown to cause disease in animals, virus circulation could worsen the regional and global situation for global health.

Stocks, oil and other commodity markets fell Monday as a result of fears of a global flu pandemic.

A University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist said Monday that swine flu has already had an impact on U.S. crop markets.

“In the first trading session following the announcement of incidences of swine flu in Mexico and the United States, corn, soybean and wheat futures declined sharply,” commented Darrel Good.

“Market participants reportedly are concerned that the threat of swine flu will reduce pork demand, stimulating further liquidation of hog numbers and resulting in reduced feed demand,” he said.

Meat Group Stresses Pork Is Part of Healthy Diet

“Although news of influenza infections in people in Mexico, the United States and a handful of other countries is unsettling, the fact remains: U.S. pork is safe,” declares American Meat Institute (AMI) President J. Patrick Boyle. “Consuming pork has not been associated with human illnesses caused by this virus.”

In fact, public health officials around the globe from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the World Health Organization are stressing this fact, says the AMI official.

“At this point the influenza risk is a human health issue. Although this particular virus could affect swine, it has not been reported in pigs. Media reports showing images of pigs are creating a false impression that is generating needless alarm and concern regarding the safety of pork,” Boyle points out.

AMI is urging U.S. officials to work aggressively with a handful of nations that have ceased imports of U.S. pork to make them understand that science doesn’t support their actions.

“Consumers can continue to enjoy vitamin-rich pork as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Consumers should continue to use normal safe handling practices when preparing fresh pork, like cooking thoroughly, keeping raw foods separate from cooked foods and washing hands, cutting boards and other surfaces and utensils that contact raw pork with hot soapy water.

Go online for more meat safety information.

President Obama Says Swine Flu Spread Not Yet ‘Cause for Alarm’

President Barack Obama said today that the threat of swine flu spreading is a cause for concern but “not a cause for alarm” as the United States works to closely monitor borders to contain it.

The Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency as a precautionary tool to ensure that we have the resources we need at our disposal to respond quickly and effectively,” Obama said in an Associated Press report from a gathering of scientists in Washington, DC.

The acting head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said people should be prepared for the situation to possibly become more severe, according to Richard Besser.

To date, the number of swine flu infections in Mexico has risen to 1,600, and a number of nations have provided varying responses:

--The European Union advised against nonessential travel to the United States and Mexico.

--Tokyo’s Narita Airport installed a device to monitor the temperatures of passengers arriving from Mexico.

--Russia said any visitors from North America running a fever would be quarantined until the cause of that fever is determined.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reassured the public Sunday that there is no evidence at this time to suggest that swine have been infected with this virus.

“According to scientists at USDA and the CDC, swine flu viruses are not transmitted by food so you cannot get swine flu from eating pork or pork products,” says Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “Eating properly handled and cooked pork or pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F kills all viruses and other foodborne pathogens.” More details on cooking pork are available at The National Pork Board.

USDA currently has a surveillance system in place in all states to monitor animal health. Vilsack says he has asked USDA officials to contact agricultural officials in every state to affirm that they have no signs of this virus type in their state.

CDC: Pork Safe to Eat, Hogs Not Source of Swine Flu Outbreak

An outbreak of a hybrid form of swine influenza has not affected the safety of pork, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

At last count, 20 people in the United States have been identified as infected with the flu virus.

More than 1,300 people in Mexico have contracted the same flu type, which is a hybrid of avian, swine and human flu viruses.

At a White House briefing yesterday, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said people cannot become infected with swine flu from eating pork.

Based on early investigations, in all of the cases so far there was no contact with swine.

The CDC stresses this unique strain of flu has not previously been recognized in either pigs or people. “This virus is different, very different from that found in pigs. At this time, there is no evidence that the hybrid influenza is present in pigs in the United States.”

While the current cases are not strictly swine influenza, the National Pork Board is collaborating with the CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide information on swine flu. More information can be found in the fact sheet, “INFLUENZA: Pigs, People and Public Health.”

Lagging Loin Prices

It has been a tough week for pork cutout values. After showing some signs of expected seasonal strength last week, the cutout value fell from Monday through Wednesday, before gaining $0.94/cwt. on Thursday. That still puts it at $2.13 below last week and over $12 lower than last year.

Altin Kalo of Steiner Consulting Group, writing in Thursday’s Daily Livestock Report from Chicago Mercantile (CME) Group, pointed to lagging loin prices as one of the key reasons for the continued weakness in the pork cutout value. Figures 1 and 2 show prices of ¼-in. trim, 21 lb. and down loins on a long-term and year-on-year basis, respectively, and they do indeed suggest that loin prices are low on a historical basis.

Why the weakness? First, I’ll not climb fully onto my muscle quality soap box, but will still point out that a good portion of the loins we sell have problems and have thus reduced consumer confidence in this product. Enough said on that for now.

Second, prices of alternative proteins are low. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are still around $1.50/lb. at the wholesale level and that makes a very competitive product for pork loins. Ditto for many high-quality beef cuts. Rib eyes and sirloins are still more expensive than loins, but they are cheap relative to history and are probably attracting a big chunk of what “splurge” money there is in consumers’ grocery budgets.

Third, loins are quite dependent on exports. Look at the surge last summer. More importantly, look at the double-topped surge last summer with the second top corresponding to the July and August explosion of exports. Lower U.S. exports are hurting loin prices and one major reason for lower U.S. exports is higher Canadian exports. My sources indicate that Canadian packers are boning a very high percentage of loins, most of which are destined for Japan and Korea.

Why? First, a lower Canadian dollar makes Canadian product more cost competitive. Second, Canada’s packers are running much closer to capacity this year due to more hogs staying in Canada because of mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL), providing them with product to export. A shift of pork exports from the United States to Canada was one of the COOL impacts I and others predicted very early on.

But Pork Demand is Still Good
On the positive side: March consumer level pork demand was excellent as evidenced by very good domestic pork disappearance (assumed to be domestic consumption) and strong retail pork prices.

Since we do not yet have March production or trade data, a few assumptions were made to arrive at the March data. First, even though weekly slaughter rates have been about 4% lower since March 1, actual federally inspected (FI) slaughter for March was virtually identical to 2008, because March 2009 contained one more weekday and one less Saturday – a gain of about 300,000 head for the month. Second, carcass weights were half a pound (only 0.25%) higher, so March production will be virtually the same as last year. Finally, I assumed that imports and exports for March would be the same percentage of 2008 as year-to-date imports (-8.3%) and exports (-10.8%), on a carcass weight basis. The net result of these assumptions is that disappearance/consumption was the highest in any March since 2004 and the six-month moving average for monthly disappearance was the highest ever for March (see Figure 3).

But quantity is only part of the demand picture. The other factor, of course, is price and USDA’s retail prices for March indicate that the nominal pork price ($2.942/lb.) was 3.8% higher than one year ago. The March consumer price index (CPI, where 1982-84 = 100) was 212.7, indicating that the general price level has actually fallen since March 2008 when the CPI was 213.5. Therefore, none of the increase in the retail pork prices was due to inflation. In fact, the real (or deflated) price increase was larger than the nominal increase. Needless to say, that doesn’t happen very often.

Higher consumption and higher price means higher demand – a fact born out by Figure 4, which shows monthly real per capita pork expenditures (RPCE), a very close proxy for the demand indexes computed by the University of Missouri. The March RPCE figure indicates a demand increase of 5.1% from March 2008, and leaves Q1-’09 demand, on average, 6.1% higher than one year ago.

So why have wholesale pork prices and, thus, hog prices, lagged so badly thus far in 2009? All of the same factors impacting loin prices have impacted wholesale pork markets, in general. It’s a buyer’s market right now. But retailers correctly fear that wholesale prices are poised to move sharply higher and they don’t want to get caught in a cost-price squeeze when that happens. Plus, they want to avoid cutting selling prices now and dealing with irate shoppers in a few weeks. Consequently, retail prices have remained high even as wholesale prices have languished.

I firmly believe it is a matter of time before that situation rectifies itself. But it also appears likely that the rally in wholesale and hog prices will be insufficient in terms of magnitude and length to return the industry to economic health. Further reductions in output will be needed to accomplish that goal.




Click to view graphs.

Steve R. Meyer, Ph.D.
Paragon Economics, Inc.
e-mail: steve@paragoneconomics.com

Prices Improving, but Red Ink Persists

This week, we have seen a seasonal rally in cash hog prices, rising to over $60/carcass cwt. Still, in order to be in the black, prices need to increase to $70/carcass cwt. Even with improved prices, the equity drain is continuing for the pork sector. The next 30-60 days are crucial for prices to rally to a level where the industry can return to profitability. Many producers are tired. Working capital is getting tighter by the day. Hopefully, the much-needed higher prices will get here sooner rather than later.

Packers and Retailers Meet – I was fortunate to be invited to a meeting, recently, that included pork packers and major retailers. I am grateful to the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board, sponsors of the meeting, who asked me to speak to the group about the economics of the swine industry. My presentation stressed that our breakeven price to raise hogs to market weight has gone up over 30% – returning to 2007 levels. Cost of production averaged about $160/head in 2008, while revenue came in at about $138/head. Price received was not the problem. What it took to raise our product was, and those costs are now higher than the industry has grown used to.

Going forward, if we say that corn will average $4/bu. and soybean meal holds at $300/ton, the average cost of production for a 265-lb. market hog will be approximately $135-$140/head. For the industry to be viable, hog prices must average $75/carcass cwt., or $145-150/head. Pork prices have never held that average price for an extended period of time. So, the question remains: What does our supply need to be in order to average that price? Truth is – I have no idea. But, I do know this is the new plateau that the swine industry must get to in order to be profitable in the foreseeable future.

Export Demand vs. Domestic Demand – It seems that the U.S. swine industry has been focused on exports, with much less attention given to what is happening with domestic demand. This concern surfaced as I listened to the retailers at the National Pork Producers Council/National Pork Board meeting this past week. Per capita pork consumption in the United States has been flat for a very long time. The only growth we have seen is the result of population growth. The food industry is a very competitive business and consumers have a wide array of products to choose from. I feel the U.S. pork industry needs to reposition itself as a healthy source of protein. The poultry industry continues to gain more market share as a healthier protein source than beef or pork. The pork industry needs to stress that we have healthy, nutritious products that taste good when cooked properly. The industry needs to educate the public and to tell our story. U.S. consumers are our largest customers and we need to focus on how we can grow that market. We need to ask retailers and consumers what we need to do to get more pork on tables. If we can figure that out, maybe we won’t have a supply problem.

Mark Greenwood
Swine Industry Consultant
Contact Greenwood at mgreenw@agstar.com

Climate Change Debate Begins

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on energy and environment began hearings this week to draft an energy/climate-change bill to be introduced by Congressmen Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Ed Markey (D-MA). The bill’s goal is to reduce global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 83% below 2005 levels by 2050, through a cap-and-trade system. The bill also establishes a renewable energy mandate that requires 25% of U.S. power be generated from renewable sources by 2025. Chairman Waxman’s goal is to have the bill pass the committee vote by Memorial Day.

Corn Belt Could Face Loss from Global Warming — A study by Environment America estimates that global warming could cost the U.S. economy $1.4 billion/year in lost corn production. The study was based on government and university data that projects warming temperatures will reduce yields of the nation’s corn crop by 3% in the Midwest and South, compared to projected yields without further global warming.

60% of Consumers Ignore Food Product Recalls — A Rutgers University Food Policy Institute study shows many Americans failed to check their homes for recalled food products. The study notes approximately 60% of Americans reported ever having looked for recalled food products in their homes. Nearly 75% of those surveyed said they would like to receive personalized information about recalls on their receipt at the grocery store. Over 60% said they would like information by a letter or an e-mail. Only 10% said they have found a recalled food product in their homes.

Comment Period Open for E15 — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will be seeking public comments for 30 days on whether to allow for a blend level of up to 15% ethanol in gasoline. Earlier this year, Growth Energy petitioned EPA asking the agency to raise the blend of ethanol. EPA has 270 days to act on the petition.

White House Office of Rural Policy — Members of the Congressional Rural Caucus sent President Barack Obama a letter urging him to establish a White House Office of Rural Policy. The members said, “The unique policy matters faced in rural America include, but are not limited to, specific concerns regarding agriculture, conservation, economic development, education, health care, information technology and transportation infrastructure, among others. We are sure your administration would benefit from an office devoted to the effect of federal regulations on rural Americans and our communities.” The caucus is co-chaired by Congressmen Travis Childers (D-MS) and Adrian Smith (R-NE).

Economic Impact of Cooperatives — USDA recently released a comprehensive study and database, “Research on the Economic Impact of Cooperatives,” showing that more than 29,284 American cooperatives generate revenues of over $654 billion and employ more than two million workers. Cooperatives reported $133 billion in income and payment of $75 billion in wages.

Cattle Material Not Hazardous Waste — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that “cattle material prohibited in animal feed” is non-hazardous solid waste and can be disposed of in landfills. This issue has been a concern of the packer and rendering industries.

USDA Nominations — The White House recently announced more USDA nominations, including Kevin W. Concannon as under secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services and Rajiv J. Shah, M.D., as under secretary and chief scientist at Research, Education and Economics (REE). Concannon has served as director of health and human service agencies in Iowa, Maine and Oregon. Shah currently serves as director of the Agricultural Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

P. Scott Shearer
Vice President
Bockorny Group
Washington, D.C.

Scientists Identify New Type Of Swine Flu in Humans

Seven cases of a unique type of swine flu in humans have U.S. health officials concerned whether it is linked to a strain responsible for more than 130 cases of severe respiratory illness in Mexico.

The five individuals in California and two in Texas have all recovered, and testing indicates that antiviral medications seem to work against the virus.

But federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials worry because none of the seven people were in contact with pigs, the normal route of contracting swine flu, and only a few were in contact with each other.

Anne Schuchat of the CDC says officials believe the virus can spread human-to-human, which is unusual for a swine flu virus.

It’s expected that further investigation of the seven cases, which all occurred in March-April, will turn up more cases of the virus, according to Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

CDC officials say the swine virus presents a unique combination of gene segments that have not been seen in people or pigs before. The virus segments are from human virus, avian virus from North America and pig viruses from North America, Europe and Asia.

The virus was first detected in two children in southern California – in a 10-year-old boy in San Diego County and in a 9-year-old girl in neighboring Imperial County.

The swine flu’s symptoms mirror those of regular flu, mostly involving fever, cough and sore throat, with some of those affected experiencing vomiting and diarrhea.

CDC officials say these cases don’t yet represent an outbreak, although it’s not known if anyone is getting sick from the swine flu virus right now.

As a precaution, CDC is preparing the virus as a vaccine seed strain that could be used to make immunizations, Schuchat says.

“We haven’t seen this strain before, but we haven’t been looking as intensively as we have these days,” she remarks. “It is very possible that this is something new that hasn’t been happening before.”

Swine flu is a respiratory pathogen normally spread among pigs, but can spread to humans, and human-to-human transmission has previously been documented, according to the CDC.

To learn more, go online to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

National Hog Farmer

BOMAC VETS PLUS CERTIFIED FOR EUROPEAN GOOD MANUFACTURING STANDARD (GMP)

Knapp, Wisconsin April 9, 2009- BOMAC Vets Plus, a Global leader in Animal Health and Nutrition has been awarded the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) Certification for the Fourth consecutive year, by SGS Systems & Services Certification EESV, Belgium. SGS is the world's leading inspection, verification, testing and Certification Company recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. This Certificate is based on the European GMP and HACCP guidelines which ensure international standards and recognition.

The inspection/ Audit conducted by SGS fulfilled an annual European audit requirement based on PDV-GMP standards, under ISO: 9001:2000. Through mutual recognition, BVPI is also certified by OVOCOM and meets internationally recognized food safety and food quality standards. This GMP certification also verifies that the basic manufacturing practices and pre-requisites necessary for the implementation of an effective Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety program are being followed in the Company.

BOMAC Vets Plus GMP Certification reflects their continued commitment to ensuring consistent quality standards in production, technology, quality control, and customer satisfaction. “BVPI has been operating under GMP guidelines for many years, but this official re-certification, for the fourth year in a row, demonstrates to customers the extent of our dedication to following strict quality guidelines, thus promoting our sales of branded and contract manufactured product" says Raj Lall, BVPI President and CEO.

In BOMAC Vets Plus-Quality System, GMP and HACCP build a structured approach to the production of safe and high-quality feed supplements. “ From procurement of materials and ingredients to manufacturing and final product dispatch, care is taken to control all factors and activities that affect product quality and safety. We have achieved this through a meticulous manufacturing standards, rigorous laboratory testing, disciplined QA/QC systems and well trained competent personnel”, says Quality Control/Assurance Manager Dr. Anita Sinha. “There is a companywide commitment for quality through continuous management support and a well established quality system. Our Certification gives confidence and assurances to our customers worldwide that the products produced in our company have the identity, strength, purity and integrity”, says Dr. Sinha.

About BOMAC Vets Plus

BOMAC Vets Plus, Inc. (BVPI) is a leading manufacturer of Animal Healthcare and Nutritional Supplements, located in Knapp, Wisconsin. Besides having a strong presence in the US Animal Healthcare & Supplements markets, BVPI also exports to about 30 countries worldwide. The company has a strategic partnership with BOMAC Laboratories of New Zealand. BVPI is also certified by the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), and the American Pet Product Manufacturers Association (APPMA).

For more information, call 800.468.3877, or go to www.vets-plus.com

102 3rd Ave. East

Knapp, WI 54749

800-468-3877

715/665-2118

FAX 715/665-2401

www.vets-plus.com

www.probios.com

www.horsesprefer.com

www.goatsprefer.com

www.dvmformula.com

www.retrosyn.com

National Hog Farmer

Floss elected board president of Iowa livestock coalition

WEST DES MOINES, IA – April 23, 2009 -- Members of Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) board of directors have elected new officers.

Craig Floss, chief executive officer of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, is named president. Rich Degner, executive director of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, will serve as CSIF board vice president while Denny Presnall, executive director/secretary-treasurer of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, is elected secretary-treasurer.

Floss has served as a member of the CSIF board since the organization’s launch in May 2004 and says the organization remains dedicated to serving the needs of Iowa’s farm families who raise livestock.

“With the support of our member organizations and many partners, the Coalition is having a direct and positive impact on Iowa agriculture,” Floss says. “In our five years of work, we’ve provided assistance to more than 1,200 families in raising livestock responsibly and successfully — from properly locating new bans and feedlots and implementing best management practices to enhancing neighbor relations and following all rules and regulations.

“Our focus has been at the farm gate, helping families do things right when it comes to raising

livestock, hogs and poultry. That focus will not change.”

Floss says CSIF will also continue to share the story of responsible livestock farming with all

Iowans.

“Research shows that when people are more familiar with what livestock farmers do regarding

animal well being, environmental stewardship and being good neighbors, the more confident and

supportive they are of the families involved in this important way of life. That’s critical given

agriculture’s role in creating and sustaining jobs and keeping farm families active on the land and in their communities.”

The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (www.supportfarmers.com) is a joint partnership

involving the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau

Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Poultry Association, Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa Turkey Federation.

The non-profit, non-partisan organization provides, at no cost, assistance to farmers wanting to

raise livestock responsibly. CSIF does not lobby or develop policy. Farm families wanting a helping hand can contact the Coalition at 1-800-932-2436.

Contact:

Aaron Putze, APR

Executive Director, Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers

1-800-932-2436 / aputze@supportfarmers.com