USA Today on the Pork Industry Bloodbath

I linked yesterday to an article about America’s 22nd largest pork operation shutting down its business. Today’s USA Today spells out the pork industry’s troubles in detail:

Pig farmers have lost an average $23 on each hog sent to market since the crisis began in fall 2007, or a total of $5.3 billion, says Steve Meyer of Paragon Economics. Losses peaked at about $43 in August. Thousands of the USA’s 67,000 hog farms will shut down before the crunch likely ends in mid-2010, says Ronald Plain, economics professor at University of Missouri.

The pork industry’s overwhelmed by a perfect storm of spiking corn prices, a tough recession, and consumer fears of swine flu. Unfortunately, the USDA is riding to the industry’s rescue:

[Agriculture Secretary Tom] Vilsack said Tuesday that the Agriculture Department will comply with the pork council’s request to buy $50 million in pork products for school lunch and other programs to ease the glut.

Your tax dollars at work. Link.