Like livestock producers across the country, Kansas producers have been hit by soaring fuel, feed and other costs. But few have been affected more than the state´s pork producers, who are losing money on every animal they sell.
Pork and beef producers - any agricultural producers struggling under the weight of record-high input costs, have resources available to help them make the best choices possible through the Kansas Agricultural Mediation Service, said KAMS mediation coordinator Char Henton.
Based at Kansas State University as part of K-State Research and Extension, KAMS works with farm and ranch families in a confidential manner to find information, to connect families with services and to help resolve disputes that arise with government agencies, banks, suppliers and others.
KAMS works with producers to help make them aware what their options are, said KAMS staff attorney Forrest Buhler. Two components of the system are key features of KAMS´ services -- financial counseling through the Farm Analyst Program and legal counseling through Kansas Legal Services.
In many cases, Buhler said, KAMS services are free of charge. Even when there is a fee involved, it´s much lower than the industry standard.
"Our industry is in somewhat of an unusual situation," said Tim Stroda, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Pork Association. "For three to four years we had a record run of profitability. Then, in October last year, everything turned upside down."
Since then, Kansas producers have lost as much as $60 to $70 per head on hogs sold. The market situation eased this spring, helped by strong demand for pork from overseas buyers. But producers are still losing $20 to $25 per pig, he said.
That may be putting some of the 1,500 Kansas hog producers in an uncharacteristically tight financial bind, said Stroda, who is talking with bankers, government agencies and others to make them aware of the situation.
Kansas ranks No. 9 in total hog and pig inventory, producing about 2.8 percent of the nation´s total, Stroda said. In 2007, Kansas producers sold 3.3 million market hogs, feeder pigs and seedstock with a gross market value of $402 million.
To underscore the pork industry's importance to the state, Stroda said that Kansas pork operations consume more than 30 million bushels of grain annually. At today's prices, that means pork producers will spend more than $165 million on grain sorghum and corn this year.
"Confidentiality is often a concern with people who are trying to work through problems. Our services are always kept in confidence," Henton said.
More information about KAMS is available by telephone at 1-800-321-3276 or on the Web at http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/kams/.