Conversion to Open Pen Housing will Drive up Retail Pork Costs

Recently, the McDonald’s Corporation announced that they will work with their pork suppliers to transition their operations from gestation crates for sows to open pen housing. Animal rights groups have railed against gestation crates for sows saying that they were inhumane treatment for the pigs, keeping them from social interaction, among other things. While he doesn’t believe in the open housing system, Tommy Porter, farrow-to-wean producer near Concord, North Carolina says that if forced, he’ll switch, but it will come with a cost for all of us:

“This is the way we make our livelihood and we will adapt, and do what we have to do, and production costs will go up so the consumer is going to be paying more for their food.”

In 2007 Smithfield Foods made the commitment to switch their company owned farms to open housing over the next ten years. Observation of sow behavior in open pen housing shows that given the choice, the sows prefer to be in their own pens, with the door closed. To learn more about this issue, visit our website, sfntoday dot com.

Cooperative Membership reaches One-billion

The United Nations has designated 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, providing a great opportunity to raise the profile of an important organizational tool for spreading human rights and equality worldwide. Membership in co-operative businesses has grown to 1 billion people across 96 countries, according to new research published by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online publication.

Soil Analysis Available

Along with higher energy costs comes higher fertilizer costs, as well. And with last summer’s drought conditions, a lot of fertilizer that was put on fields wasn’t utilized due to lack of rain. North Carolina Department of Agriculture offers soil sampling at their agronomic lab, and Kent Messick, chief of the agronomic division says it’s time to get those samples in:

“Six to seven weeks right now for any samples that would arrive today. We’re working ten-hour days in the lab processing three and four thousand samples a day. The turn-around time is decreasing at this point, we are running more samples than we are receiving.”

And the cost:

“There’s still no direct charge for soil samples analysis in North Carolina.”
This service is also available for home owners. To learn more visit North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s website; ncagr dot gov and click on the agronomic division tab.

MF Investigators Continue Search for Dollars

Investigators are focusing their attention on two money transfers as they look for 1.6-billion dollars in missing customer funds, following the October 31, 2011 collapse of MF Global Holdings Limited. Those transfers happened during the firm’s final days. Many customers, including farmers, ranchers and farm investors, have not been fully reimbursed for hundreds of millions of dollars that were frozen in their accounts as a result of the firm’s bankruptcy.

Also, MF customers have not yet received tax forms that detail their profits and losses, preventing them from preparing accurate returns for the Internal Revenue Service ahead of a rapidly approaching tax payment deadline.

High Gas Prices No Surprise

Watch the news and you’re likely to see a story about rising gas prices – but American Farm Bureau Chief Economist Bob Young says so far the recent uptick in prices is not a big story and explains why he’s not surprised by recent gas price increases…

“Some of this is just kind of traditional, seasonal price patterns. Some, I think also is concern of what’s going on in the crude oil markets, that we’ve taken crude oil prices up $10 to $15 a barrel over the course of the last two or three months. That’s certainly due to the concerns of what’s going on in Iran. And then the economy is starting to pick up just a little bit better than it had been, that’s another driver.”
Young says the Energy Information Agency expects this summer’s gas prices to be about the same as last year’s prices.

And Today’s Farm Fact:
Agriculture employs more than six times as many workers as the U.S. automotive industry. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.