Hogs feel drought's pinch
The U.S. drought could hurt livestock producers more than farmers, who often are protected by federal crop insurance.
July 20th, 2012
08:35 AM ET

Hogs feel drought's pinch

By Chris Welch, CNN

Washington, Iowa (CNN) - For Rachel and Dan Berdo and their four young children, hogs are everything:  They're the source of nearly all of the family's income.

The couple from the small town of Washington are particularly worried this year because of the drought, considered the worst in a generation.

“Obviously it's unsettling not knowing exactly what the coming crop is going to look like,” Rachel Berdo said as she sat in the kitchen holding her baby, speaking over the sound of her  three other little ones playing in the next room.

“Because that heavily influences what your coming pig decisions are going to be, what you’re upcoming household decisions are going to be.”

The Berdo family grows corn to feed to their hogs, but this year, there’s no telling what kind of corn harvest they’ll get. Farmers across the state and the rest of the Midwest  are seeing significantly reduced yields.  Some estimate they’ll get 30 to 60 bushels per acre, down from 150 to 200.

So if they don’t have a large enough harvest to keep their pigs fed, they’ll either have to purchase extra corn at a pretty penny because of the drought  or reduce the number of hogs they keep.

“It’s definitely going to impact our family in more ways than one,” Rachel said.

“In general, it bothers me quite a bit as far as the long-term financial situation,” Dan Berdo said, standing next to one of their hog barns. “But I try not to let it eat at (me)  day to day.”

Missouri farmer: Everyone will be affected by drought

In many ways, the drought could prove worse for livestock producers than for farmers.  For example, corn and soybean farmers have the option of buying federal crop insurance. Roughly 90% of Iowans take advantage of that — it doesn’t cover everything, but it helps get them by until next years harvest.

But there is no equivalent federal insurance for livestock. So if hog or cattle producers can’t afford to purchase the higher priced corn feed, they’re essentially out of luck.

And that'll mean higher prices at supermarkets across the country.   On average, food prices typically rise 1% overall for every 50% jump in corn prices, according to  Richard Volpe, an economist for the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Analysts and economists predict that prices of beef, pork and poultry will jump the most, as corn is the main feedstock for chicken, cattle and pigs.

CNNMoney.com: Corn, soybean prices shoot up as drought worsens

CNNMoney.com: Drought's impact on small businesses

For now, the Bardos say all they can do is wait for harvest season before they’ll have a better idea of what they’ll be faced with.

Until then, they say, they pray and try to stay optimistic.

“When it starts to upset me, I remember that God’s got a plan,” Rachel said. “Maybe God’s plan doesn’t have us raising hogs in the future. But it’s going to happen regardless of if I’m mad about it or fretting about it.”


Filed under: Agriculture • Heat • Iowa • Weather
soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. little pister©

    Thelma Lou Brickmore. I missed you. 😦 Or at least i missed the real one.

    July 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. little pister©

    Hold your breath.

    July 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. People Watcher

    Speaking of Hog's feeeling pinched, I was at the supermarket yesterday and saw several overly obese people complaining about slow hog trough lines and the A/C being set at 78.
    Little puddles of sweat on the floor making shopping carts spin-out around corners. People breathing heavy from pushing a cart, albiet a double wide.
    "Help you out with your groceries ma'am? OK! Forklift needed on register 39"

    July 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Church Of The Poisoned Mind

      Please post a picture of yourself. I do not believe one word you have said. I never have.

      July 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philip

    @HIDE BEHIND 1:49PM.
    Laws banning the eating of pigs, rabbits, etc. were made so that then then-nomadic peoples wouldn't catch the same diseases people whom consumed these banned foods suffered from. "Rabbit Fever", from eating poorly cooked rabbit, makes it particularly hard to roam the wilderness for 40 years.
    Yes. Those old laws have modern application. (AIDS)

    July 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Church Of The Poisoned Mind

      You can get sick from undercooked pork or rabbit TODAY. Invalid response as it relates to today's world. And unless you are gnawing of raw human flesh, you're not going to get AIDS, either.

      July 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Philip

    And since it is physically impossible for an overly obese person to survive 40 years of wondering in a desert wilderness, we know that at one time there was nos such thing as an obese jew. 🙂 (though they were called Israelites before Jerusalem was built)

    July 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Philip

    Now, we know that Moses himself was banned from even entering the Promised Land. But what of Moses wife? She was a black woman from south of Egypt, near what we call The Sudan today.
    Nubian women were reknowned for having "breas ts as big as watermellons".
    Was Moses' wife allowed to enter the land flowing with milk and honey? And we have paintings depicting Moses. Where are the images of his wife? Or Jethro, his father-in-law. Why are there none even anong black people who have portraits of Abe lincoln in their homes.
    Also, no pictures of the first American president, John Hansen, a black man. Why don't black Americans have pics of these famous people in their homes?

    July 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Church Of The Poisoned Mind

      I see the topic is being completely directed towards the bible and garbage that has nothing whatsoever to do with hogs, so I'm going to find a topic where the comments don't belong on the belief blog.

      July 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. pig in blanket

    Those are good hogs raised by good people for good people (or just hungry ones) to eat – Start your day with pork. Beyond that the sheer size of the drought is damn ominous.

    July 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Philip

    LMAO. Ask a jewish person to describe Moses. White man, beard, sandals, etc.
    Now ask for a description of Moses' wife! You should see some of the looks I've recieved from jewish people doing just this. For some reason, they don't like the idea of her.

    July 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO©

      I am most attracted to women with large br e asts.

      July 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Church Of The Poisoned Mind

      Yeah, yeah, Zipporah was supposedly black....what IS the point? NONE of this has to do with this story! If the direction is about to revolve around Uranus, I'm going to scream!

      July 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    Is that you banasy?

    July 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Church Of The Poisoned Mind

      I'm not banasy.

      July 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Philip

    This drought is old news. For the ppast two years, the midwest has recieved about 20% of it's usual rainfall/precipitation.
    Thanks to pollution, it takes water longer to evaporate than before. Rain that used to fall on Colorado falls on the Pacific Ocean now.

    July 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Church Of The Poisoned Mind

      The topics that you are bringing up is even older news. As in, ancient.

      July 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Nunya

    More bacon!!!!

    July 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bobcat (in a hat)©

    A wife came home one night to find her husband entrenched in front of the TV set. He was switching between a fishing show and an erotic movie. After a few moments of this back and forth switching, she said, "Honey you might as well watch the erotic movie, you already know how to fish.

    July 20, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      This joke isn't semi-autobiagraphical, is it, Rawr?
      Forgive me.
      I'm kidding.

      July 20, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat

      @ banasy ©

      I need the training on fishing. Mrs. Rawr once said it had to be me "Who wrote the book of love."

      July 20, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. HIDE BEHIND

    @phillip:
    You do not get rabbit fever from eating poorly cooked rabbit, it is the rabbit that gets the fever from ticks and then humans get ill from the fevered meat.
    It is the ticks that carry Rocky mountain spotted fever in US and you are as vulnerable as a rabbit, by the tick.
    All you gave were the answers that christians use as excuses to eat damn well what they want and to ignore parts of bible they want to ignore as well.
    Sorry but the historical and cultural,anthropological evidence behind choices is a lot more complicated than those excuses.
    Then again the same evidence is a lot more complicated as to why we eat what we do today as well.

    July 20, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy©

    I see there was someone here bast ar dizing my name today.
    Charming.

    July 20, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mary

    Tularemia is a rare infectious disease that can attack the skin, eyes and lungs. Often called rabbit fever or deerfly fever

    Contaminated food or water. Although uncommon, it's possible to get tularemia from eating *undercooked meat of an infected animal or drinking contaminated water.* The signs include vomiting, diarrhea and other digestive problems (oropharyngeal tularemia). Heat kills F. tularensis, so well-cooked meat — at least 160 F (71 C) — is usually safe to eat.

    Source: Cnn under the health section

    July 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
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