US pig farmers quit as corn prices rise

26-01-2007 | |
US pig farmers quit as corn prices rise

The higher feed prices, as a result of the soaring demand for corn will put some pig producers in the US out of business. This was the worrying message heard at the Iowa Pork Congress last Thursday.

“Right now, pork producers are operating in the red,”
said Carol Stevens of Fordyce, Nebraska. “There’s no profit in livestock now
because of the cost of grain.” Neil Dierks, chief executive officer of National
Pork Producers Council in Des Moines, agreed that many producers are struggling.
“Right now most hog farmers are in the break-even range and some producers will
opt to quit the business,” Dierks said.

Concerns about DDGS
The
situation could ease as more farmers rely more on an ethanol-production
byproduct called distillers grains as animal feed. Most farmers already feed
their pigs between 10 to 20% of distillers grains along with conventional corn,
Shurson said at the Pork Congress seminar. Shurson said distillers’ energy value
is equal to corn, but there may be concerns about them being high in fat and
having lower amounts of protein. Others are concerned that the price of
distillers is also rising and is comparable to the price of corn.
John
Bruellman, a pig farmer from Ottosen in north central Iowa, said more studies
need to be done before hog farmers use higher percentages of distillers in their
feed. He said he had problems pumping out manure from pigs that ate feed
containing distillers. He also said distillers were difficult to grind with
other grains in making feed.
Ryan Sauer, distillers manager for Iowa
Falls-based Hawkeye Renewables, said Iowa stands a good chance to double its
distillers production this year, making the alternative feed source more
available.

Own answers
For now, farmers are coming up with
their own answers. Bruellman said he relies heavily on corn he grows himself for
feed and expects more hog farmers to do the same.

Related
links:
Iowa Pork
Congress

Iowa State
University

Iowa Renewable
Fuels Association

Correspondents