The writing is on the wall. Meat prices in general will be trending up with pork and chicken leading the way.
The drought across the corn belt has raised grain prices to the point many farmers are unable to stay in business.
I recently saw an article on AgWeb titled Pork Producers Enter 'Survival Mode'.
The article cited a loss of $57 per pig. While many of these large farms will ride out the bad market with operating loans etc, the small farmer is going to have to make some decisions.
I realize most small, sustainable type farms don't necessarily sell at commodity prices, however the feed cost is normally higher and they are working with smaller numbers of animals.
Another article sent to me titled bacon, pork shortage 'Unavoidable' points out that as hog herds shrink across the world prices will have to go up. They went as far as saying it was possible that shelves would be bare of certain pork products and prices could double.
What does this mean to you?
If you currently buy your meat products from a small farm, prices will have to increase. I predict many small farms that have been filling hog feeders with feed from the local mill with little or no thought to the financial situation currently in play will be out of business or at the least scaling back...big time.
I have been watching the sale barns here in Ohio and it's staggering the amount of "small farm hogs" that are going through. These aren't pigs from confinement operations, these are one and two sows, half grown market hogs, feeder pigs, you name it they are leaving the farm.
That tells me pigs are going to be in short supply for the Spring of 2013.
I've said for years that the time to get better is when things are good. That's why way back when corn was under $2 a bushel here at Spring Hill Farms we were busy developing a line of pigs that weren't dependent on a feeder full of feed.
At the same time we were looking at ways to minimize our dependence on outside inputs. I'm glad we did it then and not now. For some farms, it may be too late.
Until next time....