“The National Pork Producers Council is very concerned with the effect on America’s pork producers of raising to 15% the amount of corn ethanol that can be blended into gasoline, a decision the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today.

“NPPC is withholding comment on raising the blend rate to E15 from its current E10 until we can consult with our economists. But any upward pressure on corn prices will have a negative effect on producers.

“Given that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s October 8 crop report revised down the expected yield and ending stocks of corn, we’re already seeing corn prices and the cost of raising a hog heading up.

[Corn for December delivery yesterday was up 4.2% from the day before, settling at $5.79 a bushel and has risen by 17% in the past 3 days. In trading this morning, prices reached a high of $5.88 a bushel. Corn was under $4 a bushel in August.

[The higher corn prices have dropped projected pork profits for 2011 to just an average of $1.19 per head, down more than $5 per head from a week ago, according to economist Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics in Adel, Iowa.]

“We don’t want a repeat of a couple of years ago when, due mostly to high feed-grain prices, pork producers lost an average of almost $24 a hog from October 2007 through March 2010, and the industry lost nearly $6 billion. Family hog farms went out of business during that time, and many producers reduced the size of their herds.”