The cost of bringing home the bacon
The 2012 summer drought is having a dramatic affect on pork and other livestock producers. As the summer wore on with little or marginal rain over an increasingly larger area of the United States, feed grain prices soared in anticipation of a shorter supply of corn and soybeans. Because pork producers are large consumers of corn and soybeans to feed their animals, their feed cost began to escalate at a rapid rate. Feed cost is the largest single expense in producing pork. I might add, the same is true of all animal production.
In this article we hope to demonstrate how serious an effect the drought has been to those who produce pork. Pork producers have zero opportunity to have insurance that protects them from natural disasters like this summer has produced. Grain producers have multi-peril crop insurance available to them to soften the effect of a disaster such as we experienced during this summer. We are quite grateful for crop insurance. I have read that it is estimated 85 percent of crop producers carry crop insurance. Livestock producers do not have an opportunity for such protection from losses they incur while producing their meat, poultry or dairy products.
Corn increased by nearly $3 a bushel this summer. At the same time soybean meal increased by $250 a ton. These two products make up most of a pig’s diet. There are other ingredients available that can be substituted in a pig’s diet that can help reduce the cost of the diet by a small percentage. For our discussion I calculated a corn soybean meal diet. In an efficient operation that produces baby pigs to weaning age, the feed cost rose by $5.25 per pig.
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