Everyone is familiar with their “food budget”. It’s how much you plan to spend on food each month. The United Sates has the lowest percentage of disposable income spent on food in the world. In 2019, Americans spent an average of 9.5 percent of their disposable personal incomes on food—divided between food at home (4.9 percent) and food away from home (4.6 percent). Compare this to Japan where they spend about 17% of their disposable income on food. Purchased food is still a good deal in the US.
As livestock farmers, we need to watch the “food budget” for our livestock each month. The ruminants (capable of digesting large amounts of plant fiber) like the cattle and goats get most of their nutrition from our pastures and baled hay. We produce those crops in warmer weather, harvest, store, and feed it out all year long. The pigs and chickens require some purchased specialty balance grain mixes to provide them with a balanced diet. They still have outside access to rut and peck for worms and receive some pumpkins and other produce as treats. But the reality is that since they are not ruminants capable of digesting large amounts of forage (grasses) they need supplemental grain in their diets.
So how much does it cost to feed a pig from birth to processing? It cost us $178.00 per hog. Remember that we still need to factor in the cost of the pig, housing, labor feeding and cleaning, hauling and processing to calculate our total costs in a pound of pork. But, feed costs were fairly reasonable until January.
Due to China purchasing lots more feed ingredients for their national swine herd, more American grain is being shipped there. Causing domestic grain price to rise sharply. In just one month our feed cost per hog went up 19%. That’s a big jump for a small farm like ours.
So, what will we do? We will look for any additional cost cutting efficiencies we can find in our production system and will keep our customers more informed about the economics of our meat production. Our CSA share members have their prices locked in for four months. We will hold the line on prices for as long as it is sustainable for our farm. We are committed to producing wholesome, nutrient dense food for our community and having it accessible to as money folks as possible. Thank you for your support on our farm journey.