What a Difference Six Months Makes

Prairie Gleanings

Could 2009 be another banner year?

Published on: January 27, 2009

About six months ago, I met with several pork producers to discuss how extreme corn prices were affecting their profitability. Pretty much everyone was taking losses.


Folks were basically trying to survive. A lot of producers were getting out of the business. They were literally giving away weaner pigs in the process. I spoke with one producer who realized hogs weren't profitable, but for some reason he keeps putting them in the barn, hoping prices would turn around.


According to Purdue University's Chris Hurt, this may be the year hogs are finally profitable again. Interestingly enough, Hurt says the current recession could be a boon for pork sales. Apparently, when money gets tight, folks prefer pork's price tag over beef's. Hurt just hopes producers will resist the urge to increase herd sizes.


Hopefully the upbeat pork forecast will lighten the mood at the 2009 Illinois Pork Expo, Feb. 3-4. The expo will be held at the Peoria Civic Center.


Last September, I remember interviewing multiple sources about high-dollar nitrogen. Farmers' wait and see attitudes have reduced the cost of N significantly. In fact, if you prepaid, experts are now recommending keeping an eye on your fertilizer supplier's solvency.


One thing is for sure, circumstances can change in a flash. With that in mind, I'm excited for the upcoming show. No, not the Super Bowl. I'm talking about planting season.


I spoke to an eastern Illinois farmer over the weekend. After the 2007 harvest, he said it was the best ever, and there will never be another like it. Along came 2008, and again, best ever, there'll never be another. After two years of thinking he'd topped out, he's optimistic that 2009 will once again be the best year ever.


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