NPPC's Carney says positive things happening in pork industry
DES MOINES — Pork producers are upbeat, says Sam Carney, president of the National Pork Producers Council.
"Things are going excellent," said Carney at last week’s World Pork Expo. "The whole environment and industry have changed so much since we started becoming profitable. We have the best of both worlds, lower feed costs and higher prices."
A year ago, the Adair pork producer said that producers "were about as low as they could get."
Prices were far below break-even, and fears about H1N1 influenza caused 30 countries to cut off U.S. exports. Pork exports plummeted.
"Here we are a year later and all those countries are back, including China and Russia," Carney said. "Exports are up to 20 percent. The sad news is that some producers had to exit the industry, but the positive news is that the producers that are here are making money again. That’s rewarding."
Carney said last year’s World Pork Expo saw a big drop in international visitors due to H1N1 concerns. This year’s international attendance is up with some 27 countries represented.
The industry faces challenges, Carney said.
Work has started on the 2012 farm bill. NPPC has appointed a farm bill task force that will begin meeting in July. NPPC will develop a risk management plan in the event that exports shut off like they did last summer. There are also concerns about proposed environmental regulations.
NPPC has been closely monitoring the USDA/Department of Justice market concentration workshops. Carney attended the first workshop in Ankeny and will attend several more.
"We don’t need more legislation to hinder our operations," Carney said. "We want to make sure producers have access to contracts as a risk management tool."
Reauthorizing Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting is an NPPC priority.
"We need to get that done now," Carney said. "I’d like to see that passed by July 4. If Congress doesn’t pass it before they go home for summer recess, it won’t get passed this year. When they come back after Labor Day, the attention will be on the election."
When Mandatory Price Reporting was not reauthorized six years ago, it was 18 months before it was re-enacted. Pork packers continued to report prices, but reporting stopped in the sheep industry.
"It was devastating for sheep producers," Carney said. "They had no price information. If it doesn’t pass this time, there’s nothing to say that the pork packers will continue to report. We need to get it passed."
With pork profits near $40 in May, producers are paying down debt.
"There’s no expansion going on that I know of," Carney said.
Carney, who farms with his son, Randy, said things are going well at their wean-to-finish operation. They market about 4,000 hogs.