In early September, USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service will conduct a quarterly Hogs and Pigs Survey. The agency will survey farmers for detailed information on market hog and breeding stock inventories as well as farrowing intentions. "This is a very important survey to gather information that can help swine producers," says Greg Thessen, director of the NASS field office in Iowa.
He encourages hog farmers who receive the survey to complete it accurately and honestly and promptly send it back in to NASS.
Producers should receive the survey questionnaire in late August and can respond via the Internet, mail or fax. Producers who don't respond in one of those ways will have the opportunity for a telephone or personal interview.
Accurate, timely, useful information helps hog producers make better decisions
"Through the quarterly surveys, NASS measures and reports conditions and trends in the U.S. pork industry over the course of the year," explainsThessen. "Given the recent increases in feed costs, the quarterly survey will provide a timely, accurate and useful measure of how production decisions have been adjusted that all sectors of the U.S. pork industry can use to help make sound business decisions."
Thessen noted that, as is the case with all NASS surveys, information provided by respondents is confidential by law. "NASS safeguards the privacy of all responses and publishes only state- and national-level data, ensuring no individual producer or operation can be identified," he says.
NASS will publish survey results in the "Quarterly Hogs and Pigs" report on September 28. These and all NASS reports are available online at www.nass.usda.gov. For more information, call the NASS Iowa Field Office at 800-772-0825.
USDA is buying $100 million worth of pork to help hog price outlook
In other hog-related news this week, livestock economists doubt that the federal government's decision to buy $100 million in pork products, which was announced August 14, will substantially improve the outlook for hog producers who are strapped by a weak hog market and high corn and soybean meal costs.
"I don't want to come off as unappreciative of what USDA is doing by making this announcement, but $100 million will buy only about one-quarter of the $408 million in pork produced each week," says Steve Meyer of Paragon Economics, a private market analyst based at Adel, Iowa who works for the National Pork Producers Council.
With skyrocketing feed costs and weak hog prices, pork producers are suffering
The 100 million pounds of processed pork will be given to schools, food banks and other assistance programs, says U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. It's a "drop in the bucket" of the 23 billion pounds of pork produced annually in the U.S., says Meyer. National Pork Producers Council president R.C. Hunt says his organization was "grateful" for the assistance. But Hunt notes that "many producers still face the prospect of severe losses because of record-high feed prices, which have gone up because of the drought that's hit the Corn Belt in 2012."
"Right now, our computer models show that with $8 corn, hog producers will lose $32 per animal in September and $43, $49 and $43 per animal from October to December," says economist Meyer. Iowa is the nation's No. 1 hog producing state, with 8,300 producers and an inventory of 20 million hogs.