The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

October 12, 2012

The drought is costing us big bucks

Friday, October 12, 2012 — Did you know meat prices are going up? I haven’t reached that conclusion by looking at prices in the stores. This conclusion is the result of knowing about feed costs to produce the meat.

The drought in the Midwest has cut corn and soybean production in the U.S. enough to significantly raise the price of these grains in the entire world. For North Carolina crop farmers who did not experience the drought, the price increases in corn and soybeans has meant substantially higher incomes. However, for the poultry and hog producers it means much higher feed costs which will have to be covered by selling the meat at higher prices.

To produce a broiler chicken about 10.5 pounds of feed is required. Broiler feed is about 60 percent corn, so it takes about 6.3 pounds to produce one live chicken. When the price of corn goes from $5 per bushel to $7.50 per bushel, corn cost per chicken will increase about 35 cents.

The drought also decreased the production of soybeans and increased the price. Soybeans are a source of protein in poultry and animal feeds. With bean prices higher the soybean meal in the feed will be higher. Add the increased cost of soybean meal and we have another 20 cents per chicken. In addition to the 55 cents per broiler chicken, there are additional feed costs to produce the eggs from which chicks were hatched. When you divide the four pounds of edible meat in one chicken into the additional feed costs, it is more than 15 cents per pound. We will have to pay the price to keep the chicken production going.

In North Carolina, according to the Agricultural Statistical Service of the Department of Agriculture, we produce approximately 800 million chickens per year. We eat about 160 million of these in North Carolina and ship the rest to other states and countries. While producing the 800 million chickens, it will cost 500 million additional dollars just to feed the chickens. If our producers are to stay in business, then they must receive higher prices to recover the additional costs. Without higher prices many producers will be out of business.

A similar situation exists in pork production. In North Carolina we are producing 16 million hogs per year. The feed cost per pound of hogs is higher than chickens because hogs are not as efficient in converting feed to flesh. The cost of growing pork has increased more than 20 cents per pound. Again, we must pay the price or producers will stop growing hogs. Recent news reports have predicted a worldwide shortage of bacon. With higher grain prices fewer pigs are being produced while demand is still strong.

The feed costs to produce choice beef have also risen. Cattle feeding requires more corn per pound of meat produced than either chickens or hogs. As a result we can expect beef prices to increase even more than pork or chicken.

Though most of us are removed from farm production we are subject to changes in food costs due to changes in weather. We may not be farmers, but we are all attached to the farms. Weather is still a big factor in their success. This year we can expect to pay more for meat because too little rain fell on the corn and soybeans in the US.

Eugene Pickler writes a regular column about economics for The Stanly News & Press.

Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • Brent Laurenz Special election adds to the mix

    RALEIGH – A busy slate of judicial elections this November got even busier recently when Judge John Martin of the N.C. Court of Appeals announced his retirement.
    A special statewide election to fill Martin’s seat will be added to the general election ballot, joining the four N.C. Supreme Court seats and three N.C. Court of Appeals races already slated for this fall.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon Fake news or sign of some more trouble?

    RALEIGH – Of the three situations I can recall where agencies receiving large sums of taxpayer dollars wouldn’t divulge employees’ salaries, two of them ended badly. The third – involving a group of charter schools in Southeastern North Carolina – is playing out right now.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    WASHINGTON - The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014

  • Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates

    On the other hand, with a net favorability of -8, Jar Jar is considerably more popular than the U.S. Congress, which currently enjoys a net favorability rating of -65.

    July 23, 2014

  • D.G. Martin Where did all these new voters in North Carolina come from?

    “Voters born elsewhere make up nearly half of N.C. electorate.”
    So begins the latest DataNet report from the UNC Program on Public Life, directed by former journalist Ferrel Guillory.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon Some light for Dems in their time of darkness

    RALEIGH – Earlier this year, state Sen. Ben Clark, a Hoke County Democrat, became a hero for a day among his party and environmentalists when his amendment to require more well water testing near future fracking sites passed the Senate. It even gained the support of a number of GOP senators, against the wishes of the Republican bill sponsor.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Maintaining hope

    Gardeners are facing challenges with the weather this year. It seemed like we were getting great conditions in April and May. The weather was warm and we were getting some good rains. Then sometime in June the rain stopped. It got so dry that I didn’t have to cut the grass. While I enjoyed the break, the garden was not happy at all. I was having to water quite a bit to keep the vegetable garden alive and growing.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd I may be a bit behind the times, but at least I can find ‘America’

    I seem to be reading about and dealing with technology a lot lately.
    I  love technology and have always been fascinated by gadgets of all kinds and the wonderful things they can do. You never seem to go through an entire day without some form of invention enhancing your life.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Meeting out in open helps negotiations move ahead

    RALEIGH – State lawmakers reconvened in Raleigh on May 14 promising a brief legislative session this summer, but as July moves along they are still in town and tackling big issues.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content