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Thousands of Americans endure job loss, demand for pork suffers
Jobs numbers for March were very disappointing. Only 88,000 jobs were added last month while 496,000 Americans gave up looking for work. People with jobs are what drive meat demand.
The Bank of Japan is pursuing a $1.4 trillion monetary stimulus plan. The plan should lower the value of the yen and thus make foreign products, such as U.S. pork and beef, more expensive to import.

The National Pork Board and the beef checkoff are working to modernize and standardize the names for retail meat cuts. Rather than the generic pork chop, the new plan is to sell porterhouse chops, ribeye chops and New York chops.

This week USDA began releasing their new mandatory pork cutout calculations on a timely basis. USDA has collected wholesale pork cut prices under the new mandatory packer reporting rules since early January, but has released the data with a delay to make sure the numbers were accurate. 

During the first quarter of 2013, the mandatory cutout was based on more than five times as many loads of pork as the voluntary wholesale price report. The average pork cutout value adjusted to FOB Omaha was 4.1 percent higher during January-March than for the voluntary pork reports.
The Thursday (April 4) afternoon calculated voluntary cutout value was $77.28 per cwt., up 7 cents from the previous Thursday (March 28). 
Bellies and hams were higher, butts and loins were lower. Thursday afternoon’s (April 4) mandatory wholesale calculation put the pork cutout at $79.52 per cwt., up 13 cents from the week before.
Even though USDA’s March hog inventory survey found 0.8 percent more market hogs than expected, cash hog prices were higher this week. The national average negotiated carcass price for direct delivered hogs on the morning report Friday (April 5) was $77.53 per cwt., up $1.77 from the previous Friday (March 29). The Eastern Corn Belt averaged $76.09 per cwt., Friday (April 5) morning. The Western Corn Belt averaged $80.72 per cwt., and Iowa-Minnesota averaged $80.92 per cwt. Peoria, Ill., had a top live price Friday (April 5) morning of $51.50 per cwt. Zumbrota, Minn., had a live top Friday (April 5) of $54 per cwt. 

The top for interior Missouri live hogs Friday, April 5 was $56.50 per cwt., up $3 from the previous Friday (March 29).

The average hog carcass price was 100.3 percent of the carcass value based on voluntary price reports and 97.5 percent of the calculated cutout value based on mandatory reporting.

Hog slaughter last week totaled 2.088 million head, down 4.4 percent from the week before and down 1.7 percent compared to the same week last year. The decline was largely due to reduced slaughter on Easter Monday.

The average barrow and gilt live weight in Iowa-Minnesota the week before last was 276.2 pounds, up 0.5 pound from a week earlier, but down 1.1 pounds from a year ago.

The April lean hog futures contract closed at $80.02 per cwt., on Friday, April 5, down 58 cents from the previous week. 
May hog futures ended the week $2.65 lower at $86.90 per cwt. June hogs settled at $89.70 per cwt., and July at $89.55 per cwt.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments for Ron Plain or Scott Brown may write to them in care of this publication.