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High prices: When pigs fly

Hogs are raised on the farm of Gordon and Jeanine Lockie in Elma, Iowa.

Bacon was everywhere in 2013.

There was the Denny's "Baconalia!" menu, which featured pork in pancakes, macaroni and cheese, and even ice cream. Chicken-fried bacon made headlines in Texas and we heard about a bacon martini in Las Vegas.

And then there was the government shutdown, which left farmers without a way to calculate the price to set for each of their hogs.

"After the government got back to work and the prices started to get reported again we had a nice counter season rally on the pork market,"  says Brian Duncan, a hog farmer in Polo, Ill. "On the production side, the market's done what it usually does this time of year when the market has gone down. So this is a tough time seasonally for pork producers to make money."

Currently, bacon will run about $6 a pound, the highest the price has been since 1980.

"When you go buy bacon, that's a value-added product." Duncan says. "I would challenge you though to go look at the bargains in the meat case. Take a look at say ham which is also a value-added product but are dirt cheap right now."

Duncan says a 40-percent drop in corn and grain prices is one of the few bright spots currently offsetting hog prices.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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