|Mad Max, all 800 plus pounds of him...|
contemplating pork futures
As we head towards 2013, now less than 3 months away. Keith and I are buried in plans for the next year. In the last month we had three individuals look at the farm but still no offers. One looker though, was serious enough to contact the folks we rent land from, to ask about future rent prices and the possibility of additional land purchase, so maybe an offer is in the works?
In the meantime we are doing what all other farmers in this area are doing...assessing the effects of this summers disastrous drought. As farmers harvest field by field we hear of the results. Some fields were not too bad, others less than 30% of last years harvest and some worse than that. Year to date over the entire state of Illinois, we are still 6 inches below our average precipitation. In the western counties it is far worse, at 16-18 inches below the average.
We do not raise our own grain, instead it is purchased from an organic farmer about 45 minutes west of us and as we've been expecting...he has recently raised his price to us. He also put it off as long as HE could. This price increase includes all the organic corn, wheat, barley and rye we buy in order to grind all our own hog and chicken feed. Specifically our grain is being increased by 50% . Yes, fifty percent.
|Innocent Red Wattle babes, |
thnking grain grows on trees.
7 days old
He also supplies all our organic hay and, no big surprise, our hay prices will increase as well but our farmer supplier has not yet given us the final price for the green stuff. Soon he tells us. Soon. Being the BRILLIANT blog followers you are, I'll bet you can guess what these increases will mean to our customers, Yup, we are being forced to increase our own meat prices. Economics 101.
We waited as long as we could, watching farmers and grocery stores around us bumping up their prices months ago in preparation for the inevitable grain price income, but we could not validate increasing our prices "just in case." We prefer to react in real time.
Beef and Pork, our biggest sellers, will go up as will our raw milk prices. This will include our per pound price for carcasses as well as the per pound price for the individual cuts we sell in our farm store and the grocery stores we sell to. The process of setting these new prices is time consuming in itself and not so simple as just increasing everything across the board by 50% in order to match up with the increased grain prices we are facing. Instead we will be diligent concerning our costs. Rather than just increasing across the board in one fell sweep (swoop?) we have been doing market research looking at prices for comparable products in our area. "Market research" consists of this Midlife Farmwife.
|Mad Max , the King Pin of |
South Pork Ranch
This is always a challenge as there are no other certified organic dairy, beef and pork farmers anywhere near us, who sell direct to the consumer as we do. We have also been snooping on similar type operations who sell to the same 4 grocery stores we do. Again, there are none in the immediate area, the grocery stores having to get good portions of their organic meat from out of state from much larger farms than we are. Fortunately though, there is this new invention called the Internet. Full of fabulous information for the taking. Some of it, I have heard, might even be accurate.
|Son of Mad Max and Sophie. |
Just 8 weeks old
My best method for price comparisons though, are my own eyes and feet. By walking into area grocery stores as well as those up north in Chicago and just jotting down the prices posted in their meat departments, I can gather valuable information in a short amount of time. What is difficult to find though is the wholesale price. Farmers are reluctant to share this, as they should be, which is why I try to gather this info year round , usually done by eavesdropping at different farmer events, and not just at price increase time.
We will also try to project how many beef and hog carcasses we will sell, how many roaster hogs (hogs younger than the usual 6 month market age) might be sold, how many Red Wattle Breeders will be sold, how many non Red Wattle feeder hogs will leave the farm to be raised by other farmers.. whether or not we should participate in any farmers markets and what can we afford to donate to needful organizations.
And when we have completed this process for our pork and beef, we'll take the same steps for out other "Cost centers"
Free Lance Writing
Yes, Animal Talent. Yesterday e got a phone call from an Animal Talent Agent in Chicago looking for piglets to use in a commercial. Would involve my driving them in north and then walking them around in leashes. Yeah, I could do that.
Some people refer to us as diversified. I prefer the old fashioned term.