Friday, April 17, 2009

Corn Grower President Takes Exception With Pork Producers President on Ethanol

An Editorial Comment on Ethanol’s Impact on the Swine Producers
In Response to NPPC’s Letter to the Obama Administration in Opposition to Ethanol
By Keith Bolin, President
American Corn Growers Association
April 16, 2009

In response to Don Butler’s, President of the National Pork Producers Council’s (NPPC), recently publicized letters to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and Carol Browner, stating that “pork producers since October 2007 have lost an average of $20 on each hog marketed; the industry has lost between $3 billion and $3.5 billion in equity over the past 18 months,” due to higher corn prices caused by expanded ethanol production, I wish to set the record straight.

As a hog and corn farmer and a neighbor to many abandoned hog buildings I wish to say that over the last 30 years, the low price of grain has hurt farmers and their communities much more than it ever helped. Even surviving hog farmers today should know this. The saying was, "low priced corn makes for low-priced hogs," and "high-priced corn makes for high-priced hogs." Hog farmers cut back production in "good-priced" corn years, making for a good priced hog year the following year. Now the NPPC calls "good-priced" corn years or high corn prices bad. Is this their desire to pit farmers against farmers (divide and conquer)?

All farmers need to make a profit but today's prices are below cost of production for both hog and corn farmers. It is counterproductive to wish destruction upon your neighbor. Instead, let us work together to raise the price of live hogs so that the hog farmer can make a modest profit rather than a massive loss which is what they have today.

The enemy is not ethanol, or the grain farmer, but the companies who fix the price we hog farmers receive, too often below the cost of production. Where, Mr. Butler, is your voice on Smithfield, Excel (Cargill), and Tyson? You sir, choose not to speak out on them because you receive money from them. Just remember many hog contract farmers also raise corn. Your desires will hurt your founding members, the American Farmer, who used to own the land, the hogs, the chickens, and the cattle, but your advice to the President will surely continue the downward spiral for us all.

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