Pigs Don

McDonald’s corporation recently announced they will soon require their suppliers to use an open housing system, versus a gestation crate system for their pregnant sows.

Don Butler, Director of Government Relations and public Affairs for Murphy Brown explains the two types of systems that their corporate farms are converting to:

“The type that is been being implemented east of the Mississippi is what we refer to small groups of six, in what would be a common pen. In the west, our folks out there have chosen a different system, and it’s the one that’s referred to in the industry a ‘free choice’ housing arrangement. Inside that pen are individual stalls where sows can go in and feed, lie down and rest, in fact they can go in and close the door behind themselves. In fact, many of them do.’

Butler says that casual observation shows that 90% of sows in the free choice system spend about 90% of their time in their own pen, of their own choice, therefore, leading one to believe that having a private space is preferred by the animals…the very thing that animal rights activist groups are working against.

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 that we make our livelihood, this is the lifestyle that my family loves, so, we will adapt and do what we have to, and yeah, we’ll make it work. And production costs will go up, so the consumer is going to pay more for their food. You know, it may take a while and the farmer may suffer for a while, but eventually people’s food prices will go up, there’s no way around it.”
Humane Society of the United States has been pressuring large customers of meat products to have their suppliers change the way that their animals are raised.

Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman has been one of the nation’s most vocal critics of The Humane Society of the United States. He says livestock producers don’t need a Washington-based, outside interest group telling them what to do regarding animal welfare…tape

“I remember about this time last year, we were experiencing about minus 40 degree wind chill factors. Who was taking care of our animals? Our farmers and ranchers, and I couldn’t find a single member of the Humane Society of the United States anywhere close by to help us out.”

Food Price Inflation May Be Slowing Down

The latest government report on inflation has some good news for food shoppers. USDA economist Ricky Volpe says that food inflation and general inflation have begun to match:

“We fully expect these year-over-year inflationary figures to start to fall as the year progresses. Many of them, maybe even the majority of them are negative this month, which does reflect the fact that inflation is starting to slow down. And some food prices are starting to come down from the peaks that they reached in 2011.”

Prolonged Energy Costs Could Affect Food Prices

Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack says prolonged high energy costs could lead to higher food prices. On a conference call with reporters, he called on the energy industry to help control fuel costs.

“Our hope is that the oil companies will work with us, and work with the country to ensure that the recovery that we’re seeing is not jeopardized by energy costs that get out of control.”

Board Drops 2012 NC Boll Weevil Assessment by 30 cents per acre

The board of the Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation of North Carolina has set the boll weevil assessment for 2012 at 70 cents per acre of cotton. That amount is 30 cents less than the 2011 assessment.

The fee supports the foundation’s efforts to monitor cotton acreage for any re-introduction of the boll weevil, which was eradicated in the state in 1986, and to respond promptly with eradication treatments if necessary.

Dow Jones Hits 13,000

The Dow Jones hits 13-thousand today, a positive economic sign. But Wall Street Trader Ben Willis says the up-tick likely has nothing to do with the news of Greece's second big bailout. He says traders are interested in other positive news like Home Depot's earnings report on the heels of spring.

“The rest of the world is not as in good a shape as the United States, so that’s a reason to buy US equities.”

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