Steve Meyer

Paragon Economics Inc.

Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics, founded in 2002 to provide expert economic analysis of agricultural markets and business decisions. He brings a wealth of experience in the livestock industry, having served as director of economics for the National Pork Producers Council (1993-2001), and held the same position for the National Pork Board from 2001 to October 2002. In that capacity, Steve provided economic counsel to producers and Pork Board staff and coordinated staff and consultants’ activities regarding meat industry production, price forecasts and the economic impact of pork production and processing. In addition, he administered NPPC programs dealing with marketing and pricing systems, structure, pork industry coordination and competitiveness. Previously, Steve served as a swine business specialist with Moorman Manufacturing Co., a sales representative with Dow Chemical and sales manager for an animal health and agricultural chemical distributor. In addition, he spent three years as an assistant professor in the agriculture economics department at the University of Missouri.

Hog Slaughter was Up Last Week and a Good Year for Pork Demand

Something unusual happened last week: U.S. hog processing plants harvested more pigs than they did one year ago. In fact, that is the first time such a statement could be made since the week of Aug. 16. And, as can be seen in Figure 1, last week’s slaughter run was still below the level suggested by the September Hogs and Pigs Report estimate for the inventory of pigs weighing 50 to 119 lb. back on Sept. 1. Since Sept.1, federally inspected slaughter has been 4.1% smaller than last year, and 2.8% smaller than the level I had forecast based on USDA’s Sept. 1 inventories.

Are We Frittering Away Profit Possibilities to Keep Facilities Filled?

Are we behaving like a bunch of cattle feeders, frittering away all possibility of profit to keep facilities filled? I don’t think so. My production costs model based on Iowa State University’s (ISU) historic costs and returns series says that, at current corn and soybean meal prices, May market hogs should cost about $156 to produce.

It’s Time to Pay for Pork Quality

That shuffling sound you hear is me dragging out my soapbox once again. I’ve now positioned it squarely in front of you and will proceed with this week’s edition of a rant you have read before. Don’t worry. I’m right there behind your computer monitor or whatever electronic gizmo you are holding in your hand.

Big Producers Make up Pig Losses with Heavier Weights

We have gotten a bit closer to expected levels in recent weeks, and last week’s 0.45 pound reduction in the average weight of producer-sold barrows and gilts suggests that producers are getting a bit more current in their marketings now that cash prices have fallen.

WASDE Report Brings Good News for Pork Producers

Was Friday’s World Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report from USDA the nail in the coffin for high grain and feed prices? I guess not if you consider $4/bushel still high for corn or $400/ton still high for bean meal. I would have to agree on the latter of those two but $4/bushel is so far below the past few years’ predominant prices that I have to say that one is a short-term win for sure. The longer term isn’t certain at all but the trend is definitely good.

PEDV May Thwart Pork’s Chance to Grab Beef Market Share

A victim of the ongoing porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus situation may well be the passing of a golden strategic opportunity for the pork industry to gain market share from beef. These kinds of opportunities do not come often. I can’t say the opportunity will be squandered because its loss will have nothing to do with poor, misguided or incompetent efforts. It may just happen. And that is frustrating and sad.

PEDV Outbreaks Are Not Linked to Low Slaughter Levels

Two issues are dominating the news in the pork industry this week: the spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus and the low levels of hog slaughter since Sept. 1.

Market Observations Post-USDA Return

USDA is back up and running but, as can be seen from today’s North American Pork Industry and Competing Meats tables, it will be another week before we have the normal complement of supply and price data. Further, we may not get data for the two missing weeks at all. USDA has not been too clear on those items yet but should provide more details this week.

Hog Producers Feeling Effects of Government Shutdown

The federal government shutdown, of course, has nothing to do with our business, but will have more and more profound impacts each day it drags on. “You never know how much something means until it is gone” certainly applies to this situation. We criticize, nitpick and fume with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over its data, but when there is nothing to criticize, nitpick and fume over, we see just how valuable those data are.

Hog Slaughter Continues to Fall Short

Hog supply is still on everyone’s mind as weekly slaughter totals continue to run well below year-ago levels. I addressed this topic last week but I think it bears attention again this week.

Feed Costs Continue to Plague Producers’ Chances for Profits
Will this winter ever end? Many in the upper Midwest and eastern Cornbelt areas are asking that question as temperatures fall and snow continues to fly.
Keeping First Quarter Carcass Cutout Prices in Perspective
How deep is the trouble for the U.S. pork market? There has been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over the past few weeks as cutout values dropped below $80.
COOL Controversy Far From Over
That huge THUD you heard coming from somewhere up north on Friday afternoon was the collective sound of a few thousand Canadian chins hitting the desktop, lap or floor upon seeing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed rule to fix mandatory country-of-origin labeling (MCOOL). To say that the proposed solution to this problem was not what our Canadian friends had in mind when they appealed the program to the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a gross, gross understatement.
Word to the Wise – Cover Your Corn Needs
Unless you have already priced your primary feed ingredients for the remainder of this crop year, I fear that the roller coaster ride is far from over.
Joining 30 Million Diabetics was a Wake-up Call
Last summer I got a bit of a wake-up call when a health screening pointed out that my blood sugar level was far too high. In my experience, the medical profession allows no room for error on this one. I was dubbed diabetic, immediately, and got to learn more than I wanted to know about glucose, insulin, my pancreas, diabetic diet principals and intentionally poking holes in my fingers.
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