With the latest challenge to the pork industry coming in the form of the H1N1 influenza outbreak, some say it’s time for the federal government to step in and provide financial help to the pork industry.

Chris Hurt, Purdue University agricultural economist, says U.S. pork producers have experienced severe financial stress from record high grain prices last summer and the world financial crisis in the autumn. Now outbreaks of the new flu may be the third and final strike.  Hurt estimates that from 25 percent to 33 percent of the nation's pork producers may be forced to reconsider their positions in the industry. 

For the past 18 months, pork producers have been waiting and hoping for the seasonal upswing in the market. The influenza outbreak has threatened those hopes.

Although people cannot contract the disease from properly cooked pork, fears of illness and a pandemic have resulted in unwarranted bans against U.S. pork. That heaps even more financial pressure on pork producers.

“I’ll bet $15 for each market hog sold by a producer during calendar year 2008, in the form of disaster aid, would help out,” says Hurt. “It seems to me that a country that can bail out bad business enterprises because they’re important to the economy can certainly fund one-time disaster aid to an industry that works hard, plays by the rules, and is getting hammered by an event not of its own making.”

Hurt urges those who agree to act promptly by contacting their representatives in Congress and promote the idea.

Visit Pork Magazine's H1N1 Influenza special section for the most up-to-date information on the outbreak.

Source: Pork Magazine, a sister publication of Dairy Herd Management