‘Call it H1N1’ Update


After a recent teleconference during which Ag Sec. Tom Vilsack scolded the mainstream media for perpetuating the term ‘swine flu’ it looks as though some in the media are getting the message.

It remains to be seen if the change in language will happen in time to reduce the devastating effect that the use of ther term has had on the pork industry since the flu outbreak began.

According to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the term ‘swine flu’ is a major contributor to the PR problem that has pork producers losing approximately $21 per marketed hog and an estimated $4.6 billion in equity.

The main culprit of the low prices is excess supply caused by foreign countries like China closing their markets to U.S. pork over flu fears. This issue is not being helped by some in the Obama administration who are contemplating tariffs on Chinese automobile tires, to the tune of 55 percent. The NPPC worries that the move may draw retaliatory measures on many American agricultural products including pork.

Recently, pork producers have received some help from two fronts. The USDA recently agreed to a $30 million purchase of pork and pork products in an attempt to reduce excess supply and boost prices. The pork will be used for various federal food programs.

Also, as we reported earlier on The Pulse, South Korea has agreed to re-open its markets to U.S. pork.

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