Iowa Pork Producers Association members have proposed the need to develop a U.S. feedstock contingency plan. The objective is to address possible supply/demand scenarios that may materially impact the production, availability and pricing of key U.S. feedstocks such as corn, soybeans and wheat. The proposal, which was made Tuesday at the Iowa Pork Congress in Des Moines, has been forwarded to the National Pork Producers Council. NPPC will present the resolution to national pork delegates at the National Pork Industry Forum to be held March 4-5.
“As tight as the use-to-stocks ratio currently is for 2011, we have producers who are concerned about having adequate access to corn,” says John Weber, Dysart, Iowa pork producer and IPPA's immediate past president. “While this concern may not become an issue here in the Midwest, the scenario may arise in the South or southeastern United States where producers could encounter difficulty in putting a large shipment of corn together."
IPPA officials say that they want a plan in place that would help prevent disruptions to animal feeding that could emerge from potential 2011 crop shortfalls. “Our position is why wait until we have a short crop and then wonder what to do,” says Weber. “We believe it's essential to  have plans in place to address these possible scenarios.”
IPPA officials stress that their concern isn’t about the pricing mechanism, which is worked out by markets each day. Rather, concern is the social and moral responsibility producers have for the ongoing welfare of animals they raise, and having adequate access to physical feedstock supplies. “If you’re feeding several thousand animals and your feed dealer informs you that there's trouble accessing feed ingredients, you need a plan in place,” says Weber.
For several years, IPPA has discussed the need for such a feedstock contingency plan. “If indeed feedstock supplies become so tight that it's a global issue, the U.S. export market has the potential by itself to tie up the entire nation’s feed grain output overnight,” says Leon Sheets, Ionia, Iowa, pork producer and current IPPA president. “Every good business needs a contingency plan to cover ‘what if’ scenarios. We want to mitigate the potential disruption and harm to the pork industry that could result from such a low reserve supply.”
Sheets says that with input from all major feedstock users, actions could be coordinated ahead of a potential supply disruption event.
According to IPPA, by developing a contingency plan it would provide an orderly process for all U.S. feedstock users, including the livestock industry, export market and ethanol industry, in the event of shortages. IPPA members would like to advance the contingency plan discussion and move it to the federal level.