"H1N1 flu is casting a distinctly dappled shadow across the Iowa State Fair Grounds, where 18,000 pork producers (including about 3,000 from 50 foreign countries), 450 exhibitors and 2,500 pigs are spending much of this week."
It seems the H1N1 flu and the spread of misinformation regarding its transmission in the early days of the outbreak in Mexico was just the curdled icing on the stale cake of the nation's pork economy.
"Pig farming is in an economic downturn that predates the nation's current one. H1N1 is just piling on.
"I wish I had better news for you," Don Butler, president of the National Pork Producers Council, said Wednesday as the three-day event opened. His news was that over the next six months, enough farmers would go out of business to shrink the sow herd -- the swine industry's four-legged engine -- by about 5 percent.
The pork industry has had six quarters in which production costs were greater than market prices. Business was looking up this spring until the new flu strain emerged in late April. Now, producers can expect to lose $11.16 on every hundred pounds of pig they sell, nearly the mirror image of the $11.36 profit they made in 2006, said Neil Dierks, another official of the council."