Hog farmers hope shutdown ends before pigs fly

Pigs are seen in a pen.

The government shutdown is tough on all sorts of businesses. Did you know the gridlock in Washington was harming hog farmers?

Brian Duncan raises hogs in Polo, Ill. He says nowadays, the going price for the sale of hogs in America is determined using a formula based on just a sampling of the nation's pig population.

Without the government data that produces that formula, producers are forced to use private source data to set the rate. And since that data is only based on different cuts of the hog -- hams, loins, ribs -- packers and producers are having to work backward in order to set prices. 

"The value of each of those pieces is compiled and every day we see cut out data which equates back to the price of the hog," Duncan says. "We don't have slaughter data available to us. We don't know how many hogs are being killed a week."

Duncan says it's impossible to know whether he's getting paid too little -- or even too much -- for his hogs. 

"We're really flying blind here," he says. 

The government shutdown isn't just impacting federal employees in Washington. Workers in all kinds of industries are feeling the effects of the gridlock. On Monday, Lisa Goldenberg, president of the Delaware Steel Company in Pennsylvania, told Marketplace that in the manufacturing industry, working during the shutdown was "like being held hostage." Visit again later in the week to hear and read about other industries.

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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