News 761 views last update:Feb 25, 2016

US: More grain crops needed to feed North Carolina’s pigs

North Carolina is the second largest swine producer in the US, with about 2,200 hog farmers in the state. In order for the industry to survive in the region grain production for livestock feed needs to increase.

Feed makes up about 70% of the cost of feeding livestock, and historically the bulk of this feed has been corn, most of it sent to North Carolina by rail from the Midwest. With corn prices up to US$8 per bushel for much of the year and transportation costs going up to record levels, large livestock integrators are left to ponder the reality of continuing in the livestock business in the region.

Henry Moore, who has 5,000 sows on his farm in Sampson County, N.C., says, “We’ve known for a long time that something like this was coming.”

Moore, who sits on the boards of the North Carolina Pork Council and the National Pork Board, says he has watched closely as ethanol production has taken more of the nation’s corn crop, while stockpiles of corn have been allowed to dwindle, both reckless policies he contends.

“We knew if we had one really bad drought — and we knew we would have one eventually — we’d be in trouble. We’ve been living on borrowed time,” he says.

The ‘grain basin’ for North Carolina’s livestock industry, including North Carolina, upper South Carolina and southeast Virginia continues to ramp up their respective production efforts. And the expected decrease in cotton and peanut acreage, both traditional crops in the region, should free up about 200,000 acres of farmland for grain production in 2013 in the tri-state area. Advances in crop production technologies will also help, if Mother Nature cooperates.

Pig Progress

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