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Climate Legislation Threatens Pork Production

by 5m Editor
7 December 2009, at 10:19am

US - Climate-change legislation would lead to huge cuts in pork production and higher grain prices, according to some witnesses at hearings held last week by the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research.

Citing the National Pork Producers' Council, Pork Magazine reports that hog slaughter by 2050 would be 23 per cent lower compared with baseline levels, while fed beef slaughter would fall by almost 10 per cent, as predicted USDA economist Joseph Glauber. Milk production would fall by about 17 per cent compared with baseline levels. The reductions would come as a result of crop lands being converted to woodlands, which the legislation promotes as a way to help cut greenhouse gases.

Dr Glauber said consumer prices could be mitigated, in part, if foreign producers increase their production of livestock beyond baseline levels in response to higher prices. Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes testified that as many as 50 million crop acres could be converted to woodlands under the climate-change legislation. Those acres would be on top of the 30 million acres now in the Conservation Reserve Program and 40 million corn acres now being used by the ethanol industry.

With that many acres coming out of crop production, said Dr Hayes, by 2030 corn prices would be about 28 per cent higher than the baseline level and soybeans would be 20 per cent higher. The National Pork Producers Council opposes Senate and House climate-change bills because they would raise energy prices and production costs.