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Pork Industry Recovering from Worst Slump in History

Find out why the pork industry in the Hoosier state is so important and how the state is recovering from the perfect storm that caused the industry to topple.

It’s a salute to the pigs at this year’s Indiana State Fair. And the timing couldn’t be more perfect as the industry works to recover from the worst slump in history.

From shirts, to hats, to big monster pork burgers- the pig is king at this year’s state fair.

It’s no coincidence the pig is being recognized…. The pork industry is a big deal in Indiana – it employees more than 13,000 people across the state and according to Farm Bureau President Don Villwock it contributes more than $3 and a half billion to state’s economy.

“We’re the fifth largest pork producer in the nation. It’s a key industry in our state. Quite often we say it’s the mortgage lifter because a lot of the farms, the pork paid off the farm,” said Villwock.

But the industry that is so important to the state’s economy took a huge hit over the last two years.
“It was a pretty bad perfect storm the past few years with increases in supply that drove prices down, export markets starting to shrink because of the global recession, and then the whole H1N1 calling it the Swine Flu really took a big hit on the industry,” said Mike Platt, Pork Producers Executive Director.

Jerry Rulon who raises about 7000 pigs on his farm north of Indianapolis says for the past couple of years he’s been losing about 25-to 30 dollars per hog.

“It’ll take a couple three years probably to get it back,” said Rulon. “Even the big boys aren’t gearing up very fast. But after two years of losses, farmers are beginning to make a profit. Grain prices have fallen, H1N1 is gone, and exports are picking up.”

“It’s a welcome sign and a welcome change for a lot of them. It’s good to see a lot of pork farmers with smiles on their faces again,” said Platt.

On average the equity in pork farms went down 50-70-percent over the last two years….and a lot of the profitability farmers are seeing now is simply getting them back to the levels they were at before the perfect storm hit.

Joe Hren

Anchor, Indiana Newsdesk - WTIU & WFIU News. Follow him on Twitter @Joe_Hren

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