“Our great industry is all too often mandated by people who have never been hungry.”
I am extremely humbled to have been asked to write a blog for the Porknetwork and hope I am up to the challenge. “Common Sense ‘On Call’ will tantalize, challenge and, at times, enrage its readers.
As a bit of background, I have 40-plus years of active involvement in the pork Industry, encompassing nearly every phase of this dynamic business. Please refer to www.meersconsultingllc.com, for a mini resume and further information.
This is what I think I know:
What is the big deal of a two percent cut in government wages? Haven’t we all been forced to take a cut? More than once I say! I understand that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is under contract but has anyone ever heard of “renegotiate”? Remember when President Reagan fired all of the air traffic controllers? I don’t think he hired any of them back either. They may have been at the end of their contract and someone out there will surely check on my accuracy. Without the present political scare tactics, the FSIS can manage the cutback with reduced floor time over the remainder of the fiscal year. Hog harvest could be discontinued on Friday and Saturday. Anything over 40 hours in the remaining week would be picked up by the harvesting company if they so chose. Line speed and harvest quantity has been and will always be driven by demand and margin, and our industry can live with a shortened harvest week. A full blown furlough will back hogs up for three to six months.
Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (MCOOL)
The new regulations appear to make things more difficult, rather than easier or streamlined, for our trading partners and harvesting companies. I could never figure out why a suckling pig or calf would be any different whether born in the United States, Canada or Mexico. Aren’t we concerned only with the feeding of the harvested animal? Age is verified via health certificate at the borders. In my opinion, weaned pigs and calves fed 100 percent in the United States should have no COOL stipulations.
Be careful what you wish for! The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has done a wonderful job with exporting our products. In fact, the meat from one in four hogs harvested is now shipped abroad. Problem is, our industry is used for political gain by our importing customers. Any disruption puts product back on the domestic market, which has stagnant demand.
Producers should target 260 pounds as a slaughter weight, with no hogs over 270 pounds! Every five-pound decrease in harvest weight is equal to 42,000 less hogs PER WEEK!
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author
Paul Meers Swine Consulting LLC