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April 18, 2002   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
April 18, 2002

MONTGOMERY, Ala., -- A drastic drop in hog prices has Alabama pork producers prompting consumers to eat more pork. The number of hog farmers in the state has been declining for years, and prices recently fell below the breakeven point for producers, according to Alabama Pork Producers' Director Brian Hardin. While the price decrease hasn't trickled down to consumers yet, pork prices are likely to drop in grocery stores in the coming weeks, he said.

Since early February, the price that farmers received for top hogs has fallen nearly 40 percent to about 27 cents per pound. The breakeven price for pork producers generally is calculated at about 37-38 cents per pound, Hardin said. So producers who are selling top hogs (240-260 pounds) right now, have lost $20-25 per head in the last few days, he said. However, the current low prices may rebound during the summer when grilling season usually boosts hog prices, he added.

"There are several temporary factors that probably contributed to the price drop," Hardin said. "Right now, there is a large supply of meat on the market -- not just pork, a large supply of beef and chicken, too. We also had a mild winter that created conditions for excellent growth rates for all livestock. Combine those factors with the recent ban of U.S. poultry in Russia that left a lot of poultry on the market here, and you have an oversupply of meat. When you have an oversupply, the price goes down."

"The Alabama Pork Producers has joined other state organizations, the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board in looking for ways to ease the situation," said Alabama Pork Producers President Stanley Morris of St. Clair County. "We are encouraging USDA to buy pork for government food programs and to increase pork exports. We're also working on promotion campaigns to encourage more consumption of pork within our state."

July is Pork Month in Alabama, and a campaign is planned by the Alabama Pork Producers to encourage consumption of pork through recipes and health awareness promotions.

Several years of low prices for producers has contributed to the decline in the number of hog farmers in the state, Hardin said. In 2000, there were 400 pork producers in Alabama, down from 500 in 1999. The number of pork producers dropped to just 300 last year.

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