More investigation into meat packers needed

Hog producers urge officials to look into situation.

Pig carcasses hang from an overhead conveyor at a Smithfield Foods Inc. pork processing facility in Milan, Mo., on April 12, 2017. Daniel Acker / Bloomberg

Your article (Agweek, April 27 edition) regarding the disparities between the packer profits and the beef producer price-fixing needing to be investigated is spot on!

However, it better be investigated for the hog production industry as well as including investigation of packer-owned facilities and contractual arrangements with mega hog operations squeezing out shackle space from medium and small hog producers! We have gone from 4 semi loads to only 1 semi load per week allowed to be shipped and then the next week, we are docked severely for overweight hogs.

We have been in hog production for over 28 years, raise superior quality hogs but because we haven’t been expanding, they select giant hog producers over producers who have literally been the packers' "bread n butter" for years. Recently, we have received as low as 25 cents per pound for our animals when our cost of production is 55 cents per pound. The packers are making 30 cents more per pound at the expense of the producers in that area alone. This amounts to $90 per 300-pound hog loss to the producer!! Compare this to a retail grocery store price to the consumer of $4.50 to $6 per pound of pork. Profit margins are still intact for the packer and the retailer ... what about the producer! We are now looking at euthanization of our hog production due to a lack of packer access at a profitable level.

Plus, the packers get government dollars thrown at them now because of the virus and the (Payroll Protection) Program, while we have to qualify for these funds as we are not considered a business, we are considered agriculture.

Also, a problem in the packing industry, thanks to the government providing an extra $600 per unemployed applicant, workers are staying on unemployment and at home instead of working.


When are producers going to get the assistance they need to make a living for themselves when we produce the food for everyone else?

Packers aren’t adhering to the Packers & Stockyards Act created in 1921 and aren’t being held up to the law regarding the percentage of ownership by a foreign entity! In 2013, the Obama administration circumvented these two laws and allowed China to buy out Smithfield’s and thus gave the ability to destroy American hog producers!

"Foreign investment in the U.S. is a matter of congressional concern." as was stated by the Congressional Research Service regarding Foreign Investment in the US, Major Federal Statutory Restriction dated June 17, 2013. The following is an excerpt from this report summary; The U.S. has an unusually liberal policy that allows foreigners to invest in virtually all American businesses and real estate and may undermine the American economy by making it vulnerable. They further argue that extensive foreign investment in this country drive up prices which Americans have to pay for investments, houses and farmland areas where there is a significant amount of foreign ownership.

You know when you don’t have an active live market place or where a packer can step on the scale by pulling from their own captive supply it creates serious supply chain disruptions and makes it very hard for an average livestock (cattle, hogs, poultry, etc) operator to make a living,” as stated in the Call for Investigation article.

We are American Hog Producers!

(The Heins raise hogs in Minnesota)

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