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Producers Weigh in on ‘Lipstick’ Campaign Issue

On the heels of the "lipstick on a pig" discussion, pork producers from Illinois are weighing in and adding a new perspective geared to "ham up" the conversation.

On Monday morning (Sept. 15), Illinois pork producers will deliver informational material about pork production, a t-shirt stating simply, "Nice Chops," and an original poem with the same moniker, to the Obama and McCain state campaign headquarters in Springfield, IL.

Jim Kaitschuk, executive director of the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), says the idea came about because the association received media inquiries about what would happen if someone actually tried to put lipstick on a pig.

“We’re hesitant to wallow in the political arena,” says Kaitschuk. “But this appears to be more than just a pig in a poke. It provided an opportunity to educate and allow both sides to laugh at the circumstances.

"Besides the fact that this is something farmers would never do – because of common sense and because producers are too busy caring for the well-being of the animals – it's a pretty funny proposition," Kaitschuk says with a chuckle. "We’re happy to provide our side of the story. After all, the topic at the center of the controversy – pigs – is our livelihood."

The poem, written on behalf of all Illinois pork producers, reads as follows:
In the land of politics and campaigns galore,
The rhetoric has shifted to lipstick and a boar.
Though putting lipstick on a pig may seem cute,
It's one thing farmers will surely refute.
It wouldn't be sanitary, it wouldn't cross their minds,
To apply a glycerin product -- derived from the pig's behind.
It's a noble profession raising pigs for a living,
A pig is an animal that just keeps on giving.
From bacon to sausage, pepperoni to ham,
We're even linked to your old friend, Uncle Sam!
But did you know we're more than just pork?
Our value extends far beyond the fork.
By-products from pigs make heart valves and plastic,
Crayons, insulin, buttons, even lipstick!
Whatever you think of – bacon, lipstick or ham hocks,
Doesn't matter to us… we say, NICE CHOPS.

Both camps were given a reminder to remember to laugh, and wished a successful journey in their race to the White House.

"The lipstick situation is one where we couldn't pass up the opportunity to participate in the discussion," says Phil Borgic, a pork producer from Nokomis and current IPPA president. "This sets us up nicely for our upcoming October Pork Month activities – some of which will play off the theme of pigs, pork and politics."

Crop Projections Reduced, Signaling Higher Prices

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today reduced its forecast for this year’s corn and soybean harvests due to dry weather, setting up the potential for higher commodity prices.

U.S. corn production will be 12.1 billion bushels, down from last month’s estimate of 12.3 billion bushels, according to USDA. The soybean crop is projected to be slightly lower, at 2.93 billion bushels, down from its earlier estimate of 2.97 billion bushels.

The downgrade in the corn crop would be 8% below last year’s, but still would be the second-largest on record. The soybean crop would be 13% higher than last year’s and the fourth-largest ever.

This month’s report is only the second of the USDA’s reports this year to include actual field visits and farmer surveys, which analysts says are more reliable.

In last month’s first report, analysts suggested that “nearly ideal” weather conditions had helped Midwest fields to recover significantly from June floods that devastated crops that sent corn prices over $8/bu.

While corn prices have dropped about 35% from their highs, soybeans have jumped up to more than $12/bu. this summer

USDA has adjusted its price estimates for this season’s corn and soybean crops to $5-6/bu. for corn and $11.60-$13.10/bu. for soybeans. Both predictions are up 10 cents from last month.

Markets' Ebbs and Flows Remain Baffling

My grandfather had a great saying for those things he considered unusual: “I’ve been to two county fairs and three goat ropings and I ain’t never seen nothing like this.” Amen, Ervin. Amen.

If Ervin Rice was an economist instead of a hard-working roughneck, driller and tool pusher (those are oilfield jobs, in case you were wondering), he would say the same about the hog market this year. The ebbs and flows of costs and prices have been unprecedented.

Just last week in this column, I was trumpeting the achievement of a new record-high hog price. Prices have now fallen this week by about $17/cwt., carcass (see Figure 1), before stabilizing. Last week a caller asked me to explain this drop in hog prices and my response was, “I couldn’t explain the increase, so I feel no responsibility to explain the decline!” But I have to give it a shot.

These price changes are not related to hog slaughter. Weights are running 4 lb. lower than last year, but they did not increase over the past two weeks, so one can’t explain the decline with heavy hogs either. In fact, I do not see a supply variable (including sow slaughter) that would have much impact.

So it must be demand. And you have read about the vacuum that exists when it comes to timely demand data. Every piece of anecdotal evidence points to a huge upward run on exports and then an abrupt halt. The fact that trimmings and hams led the upward charge in cutout value suggests exports.

Russia is frequently a player in the trimmings market and Mexico has been a big factor in the summer ham market for several years. And, lo and behold, there are now trade issues with both of them.

I don’t believe it is a coincidence that trimmings ran up just before Russia announced export reductions. Mexico is not happy about USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) finding that 19 Mexican plants did not meet U.S. standards. Mexico voluntarily stopped shipments from those plants and now there are scattered reports that loads of U.S. pork are being denied entry into Mexico. There is nothing official in those actions, but U.S. packers are increasingly concerned.

So exports giveth and exports taketh away. Such will be life when we depend on exports for a substantial portion of our well-being. Exports accounted for 21.5% of production in April and 26.5% in both May and June – over one of every four pounds produced. Any little glitches will be important. We have probably seen that recently but, due to the lag of pork export data, we will not know what happened in August until October.

Profit Prospects
Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group Lean Hog futures prices have declined along with the cash market. The roughly $7 decline in hog futures has more than offset the decline in both corn and soybean meal to leave the profit prospect for 2009 at their lowest levels since July 1 (see Figure 2). My forecasts for costs and prices show only three profitable months next year and some losses of near $40/head this fall.

Will those provide enough incentive to reduce the sow herd more? It hasn’t yet, but it certainly could. I expect only a 2% decline for the U.S. breeding herd when the quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report is released on Sept. 26. If that is the size of the reduction, slaughter numbers in 2009 will not be much lower than those of 2008. Imports from Canada will be lower, but productivity increases will provide plenty of pigs.




Click to view graphs.

Steve R. Meyer, Ph.D.
Paragon Economics, Inc.
e-mail: [email protected]

Healthy Hogs Seminar Slated for North Carolina

The Healthy Hogs Seminar is scheduled for Oct. 29, 2008 at Sampson Community College in Clinton, NC. The program starts with an 8:30 a.m. registration and concludes by 3:30 p.m.

On the morning program is discussion of a state pseudorabies swine surveillance plan for 2009, the ethics of conventional pig farming, which pigs must be euthanized and motivating the contract grower.

The afternoon sessions include managing a tractor trailer wreck, focusing on the essentials to improve reproduction and a ventilation workshop.

For more information, contact Morgan Morrow of North Carolina State University at [email protected].

Carolina Swine Nutrition Conference Scheduled

The Carolina Swine Nutrition Conference is planned for Nov. 11 at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in the Research Triangle Park at Raleigh, NC. The conference will start with a reception on Nov. 10.

Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics, kicks off the program with Competitive Conditions in the Livestock and Poultry Sector.

Dean Boyd of The Hanor Company, Inc. follows with Survival Nutrition for This New Era.

Following the break and posters, Mike Brumm of Brumm Swine Consultancy covers Mistakes and Opportunities in Managing the Response to Nutrition.

Rob Rhoads of the University of Arizona leads off the afternoon session with The Impact of Neonatal Nutrition on Satellite Cell Dynamics and Long-Term Skeletal Muscle Growth

Jim Pettigrew of the University of Illinois follows with Feed Formulation Using Nontraditional Ingredients.

Closing the program is Keith Behnke of Kansas State University with Controlling Feed Manufacturing Costs in Today’s Environment.

Learn more by contacting Eric van Heugten, North Carolina State University at 919-513-1116 or [email protected] or Bonnie Holloman, Carolina Feed Ingredient Association, at 919-855-8981 or [email protected]

Pork Group Supports Reelection of Governor

For the first time in its history, the Indiana Pork Advocacy Coalition (INPAC) has backed a political candidate, endorsing Mitch Daniels in his bid for a second term as governor of Indiana.

INPAC officials strongly believe that Daniels is the best candidate to lead the state of Indiana over the next four years.

Gov. Daniels has served as a long-time champion of agriculture in the state, recognizing and promoting its economic value to the state and an industry that is vital to the lives of thousands of Hoosiers.

“Governor Daniels demonstrates a unique and passionate support for agriculture in Indiana, and his unwavering focus on aligning policies aimed at helping to re-grow our pork industry has made a major difference to Indiana farm families,” says Malcolm DeKryger, INPAC chairman and owner of a family farm in DeMotte, IN. “Though we do not historically endorse candidates at any level in the political process, our organization has unanimously decided to break with tradition and offer our wholehearted support to Gov. Daniels’ campaign.”

The Indiana Pork Advocacy Coalition is a group that helps protect, promote and grow business opportunities of its members by supporting laws and regulations that allow pork production businesses to thrive. For more information, visit www.indianapork.com.

More articles from people in the news.

Ohio Tour Highlights Composting, Bioenergy

Ohio State University’s (OSU) Composting and Manure Management Program will lead a public tour of three composting and bioenergy facilities in northeast Ohio on Sept. 25. The program focuses on anaerobic digestion and composting. The first stop, at 8:45 a.m., is at the Biogas and Composting Facilities of Akron, located at 2677 Riverview Road. The tour will also stop at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), located at 1680 Madison Ave. in Wooster. A composting research update will be presented and lunch will be served. Participants will visit the Schmack BioEnergy Analytical laboratory at 1:30 p.m., and the OARDC Composting Site at 2:30 p.m. The Schmack lab works to analyze feedstock energy potential and environmental benefits. The OARDC Composting Site processes dairy manure and other organic materials from the campus. It uses windrows with intermittent aeration and drains runoff to constructed wetland treatment cells.

Participants are asked to drive to each of the tour sites. Registration is available for $25 with lunch, or $20 without lunch, and is due by Sept. 17. For more information, contact Mary Wicks at 330-202-3533 or email [email protected] To register, send name, address, telephone number email address and a check to Mary Wicks, Ag Engineering Building, OARDC/OSU, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691. More information is available at the OSU Ohio Composting and Manure Management Program Web site. Click on the “OCAMM Tour” link to view a PDF document with the tour itinerary.

World Dairy Expo Offers Manure Use Seminar

A 45-minute seminar entitled, “Sorting Manure—Minimizing the Mess,” is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3, at World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI. Joseph P. Harner, a Kansas State University (KSU) agricultural engineering professor, says as dairies grow, the need for an efficient manure management system is essential. Systems should fit the dairies’ needs while minimizing environmental risks. Determining what type of manure management system works for a particular dairy can be a challenge. Harner will offer suggestions on analyzing manure systems. The seminar will take place in the Mendota 2 meeting room, located in the Exhibition Hall at the AlliantEnergyCenter in Madison. World Dairy Expo takes place Sept. 30-Oct. 4, 2008 and features dairy cattle shows, more than 1,600 exhibit booths and a variety of educational seminars. Learn more online.

Tour Innovative Wisconsin Dairies Oct. 14-16

The Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW) are offering a three-day Nutrient Innovation & Technology tour, Oct. 14-16. Owners and managers of the nine dairies on the tour will tell participants about their manure nutrient management and handling strategies. The tour is limited to the first 100 registrants. Registration costs $350 for members of the PDPW, or $450 for non-members. An additional $50 late fee will be added for registrations received after Sept. 15. Learn more about the tour at the PDPW Web site, or call 800-947-739 for more information.

Proper Testing and Calibration Preserve Manure Value

Both buyers and sellers of livestock manure can realize its many benefits, and proper testing can help pinpoint its real fertilizer value, says Joel DeJong, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension field agronomist. “You wouldn’t go to buy commercial fertilizer and say, ‘just give me fertilizer.’ The nutrients in animal manure should be managed with the same care as commercial fertilizer,” he states.

DeJong tells producers it is important to determine the total amount of nutrients in the manure, the availability of those nutrients to the crop being grown, and the amount of nutrients needed to optimize crop yields.

Producers should have a representative sample of manure chemically analyzed to determine the nutrient value prior to applying it to the field, he suggests. He uses a 1,250-head finishing unit as an example: “If you have 500,000 gal. of manure with a chemical analysis of 50 lb. of nitrogen, 35 lb. of phosphorus, and 30 lb. of potassium per 1,000 gal. of manure, and estimating nitrogen values of $0.65/lb., phosphorus values of $1.20/lb. and potassium at $0.73/lb., you would have around $50,960 in value,” DeJong explains. Information about accurately sampling manure for nutrient analysis can be found at extension.iastate.edu.

Proper calibration of equipment will help ensure uniform application and improve the crop’s ability to utilize the manure nutrients. Kris Kohl, ISU Extension field engineer, explains one method of calibrating solid manure spreaders by using 1/2000th of an acre piece of plastic, which measures 5 ft. x 4 ft. 4 in. Spread the plastic on the ground in various locations from the beginning to the end of the field and collect the manure as it is spread on this area. By weighing the manure that is collected on the plastic (in pounds) a producer will be able to calculate the tons per acre being applied.

“If I pick up 20 lb. of manure on the plastic, I have a 20-ton application rate, for example,” Kohl says. “I also like being able to collect a manure sample off of the plastic to send to the lab to see what was actually land applied.” Additional information about calibration and uniformity of solid manure spreaders is available online in an ISU publication.

When applying liquid manure, Kohl reminds producers that manufacturing variations, manure foaming and solids build-up could mean the tank may not be filled at the rated capacity. These inconsistencies could result in over-or under-application, and the inaccuracies could affect crop yields and the environment. He recommends that producers measure the density of manure and the application spread pattern. Kohl also advocates weighing the tank, tires and hitch when the tank is empty and when it is full. “Often we will transfer 5,000 to 8,000 lb. of the weight on a liquid tank onto the hitch,” he says. Iowa State University offers a detailed explanation about weighing liquid manure tanks and determining application rates, in addition to providing a helpful worksheet online.

Both Kohl and DeJong recommend producers visit the Iowa Manure Management Action Group (IMMAG) Web page for additional manure management information.