Of Pigs and Prices
Woe be, to the pig farmer! 13 dollars per hundred weight is 'slim pickens'
to be making a living. Cost of production is somewhere around 45 to 50
dollars per hundred weight. That means pig producers are losing...big time.
But wait...someone's making money during these times of depressed hog
prices. Not the farmer certainly. Not our neighbor down the road. But
someone is. Who? Who stands to profit from these depressed hog prices? And
why are they so low? The price of pork in the grocery store hasn't dropped
like the price of pigs has. Why is that? WHO IS PROFITING?
The answer is large scale corporate agriculture. The same ones with 100,000
unit, sow operations in unfortunate states like North Carolina and Iowa. In
Utah, a consortium of firms led by Smithfield Foods of Virginia is planning
a massive factory designed to produce 2.5 million hogs per year! It will
produce as much sewage as the city of Los Angeles.
Proponents say this scale of producion lessens costs, there-by making them
more efficient. But as we saw in North Carolina, the costs weren't lessened,
they were externalized. Externalized costs are those that are not paid for
by the producer but shunted on to the public, in hope that no one will
notice. These are costs for things like clean up of sewage lagoon ruptures,
poisoned aquifers, pfiesteria (the cell from hell) epidemics, reduced
antibiotic usefulness, air pollution, and decreased property values for
anyone unfortunate enough to live down wind from these pigs. These
corporate hog factories (not farms) use public dollars to subsidize their
bloated growth. (see Time Magazines recent series on corporate welfare)
But there is another reason pig farmers are going out of business. It's
called 'vertical integration'. That means that the same corporate giants
producing mega hogs and mega pollution also own the processing plants and
distribution chains. As the big processing plants were bought out by the
corporate pigs, many were also closed down. Enough were closed that there
are no longer enough processing plants to handle the supply of hogs. We now
have a glut of hogs and noplace to proces them. The corporate giants are
able to sell at the depressed price of 13 dollars per hundred weight,
because they don't need to make money at that point of production. They can
still make their money on the processing and marketing!!!
But people and states are fighting back. In South Dakota the people passed
Amendment E, in Nebraska they passed Initiative 300, and in Colorado they
passed Amendment 14. All of these legislative pieces limited the corporate
pigs, and will give the local farmer chance to stay in business...if he can
pass muster and survive the current collapse fair pricing.
So if you have an interest in farmers making a fair profit, call your
represenative and let him or her know Wisconsin needs this typr of legislation.
Descriptor terms: dollars per hundred weight, externalized costs,
pfiesteria, corporate welfare,
Prairie Dock Farm
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