DEVASTATING: Bacon Reserves Hit Critical Level

In order to preserve the ability of the United States to continue to live and fight after a national catastrophe, the country maintains strategic reserves of certain vital commodities. Some of these reserves are maintained by the federal government, such as the strategic petroleum reserve and the gold reserve. Other are maintained by private industry groups. Now the industry organization that maintains a watch on the national bacon reserve warns that bacon may be nearing crisis levels.

In a story in USA Today, the Ohio Pork Council, the national watchdog for bacon production, warned that national bacon reserves were at a half-century low. The critically low bacon levels are in spite of historically high levels of bacon production.

“Today’s pig farmers are setting historic records by producing more pigs than ever,” said Rich Deaton, president of the Ohio Pork Council. “Yet our reserves are still depleting.”

At the end of 2016, the Department of Agriculture reported that the frozen pork belly inventory was at 17.8 million pounds, the lowest level since 1957. Frozen pork bellies are part of the pig that is vitally important in the production of nature’s most perfect food: Bacon.

“There are literally not enough little piggies going to market,” observes USA Today. Dark humor is often used to mask panic in a time of crisis.

Since hog production is up, the bacon crisis is apparently due to increased demand, both at home and abroad. The council noted that hog farmers export about a quarter of their total production.

Another factor in the crisis may be bad advice, no doubt promulgated by Big Bacon, that leads to an artificial increase in bacon consumption. For example, Youtube stars Rhett and Link have encouraged the use of bacon to solve a variety of problems ranging from puncture wounds to a “shart” to accidentally posting nude pics to the Apocalypse.

The Rhett and Link video was posted in 2012. Five years later, bacon levels are critically low. A coincidence? Undoubtedly not!

The potential severity of a bacon shortage could be the most catastrophic event to hit breakfast since the Duke brothers attempted to corner the market on frozen concentrated orange juice in 1983. The bacon crisis could be even larger since bacon is not just a breakfast food. The shortage could be felt in other meals as well due to the prevalence of the BLT, bacon cheeseburgers and bacon-wrapped everything.

Perhaps it is time for federal protection of the hog industry to prevent the export of this vital national product! Without swift and strong federal action, the increased demand will certainly lead to increased bacon prices. If the problem persists long enough, bacon may one day become a meaty treat that is only available to one-percenters. The tragedy of living in such a world would be unimaginable.

A sharp increase in the value of bacon might also lead to an increase in bacon-related crime. Don’t scoff at the thought of a multimillion dollar bacon heist. High commodities prices can and have inspired such crimes.

In 2012 (another coincidence?), thieves made off with $30 million in syrup from Canada’s strategic syrup reserve in Quebec. There is no confirmation on whether the value of stolen syrup was in US or Canadian dollars, but that is beside the point. The point is that when something becomes more valuable, it attracts unsavory elements.

A possible answer might be to develop bacon countermeasures (BCM) to deter bacon theft and make it more difficult to sell hot bacon on the black meat market. Invisible watermarks, tracking devices and etching serial numbers on each strip of bacon could help prevent bacon heists.

After getting us all worked up, President Deaton of the Ohio Pork Council attempts to allay our fears of a bacon famine. “While bacon may become more expensive for consumers, rest assured the pork industry will not run out of supply,” Deaton says.

But can we afford to take that chance?

I know not what course others may take, but, as for me, I’m heading to the grocery store to start my own bacon stockpile. Just in case.

New Oil Find In Texas Means Prices Should Stay Low

The U.S. Geological Survey announced this week that it had discovered the what may be the largest untapped supply of oil ever found in America. The discovery sits in the Permian Basin of West Texas near Midland, an already booming oil town that was the childhood home of President George W. Bush.

The find comes amid a two-year oil price slump that has caused pains among Texas companies as well as foreign oil producers like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Russia. Many oil companies in Texas have already filed bankruptcy and many more hover on the brink.

“The fact that this is the largest assessment of continuous oil we have ever done just goes to show that, even in areas that have produced billions of barrels of oil, there is still the potential to find billions more,” said Walter Guidroz of the USGS. “Changes in technology and industry practices can have significant effects on what resources are technically recoverable, and that’s why we continue to perform resource assessments throughout the United States and the world.”

The new find and the oil slump are both made possible by new technology that allows oil to be harvested that was untouchable in the past. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and the ability to drill for shale oil have vastly increased the amount of the world’s recoverable oil reserves.

The New York Times reports that US domestic oil production has almost doubled in the past few years, largely due to these new technologies. As US production of oil has increased, the need for foreign imports has fallen. Foreign oil companies have struggled to find new markets and prices have fallen as a result.

Over the past few months, oil prices have recovered from less than $20 per barrel to the current $40-50 range. Many wells are not profitable at current prices and have shut down. Likewise, new exploration and projects have lagged because they are not cost effective without a higher price for oil.

Most analysts have predicted that oil prices will take several years to recover to the $60 range where many more wells and projects would be profitable. The likelihood of oil returning to $100 per barrel prices that were frequently seen from 2008 through 2014 seems remote.

The new oil discovery also serves as a reminder of how rapidly things can change. Alarmists have been predicting for years that the world has reached the point of “peak oil,” the point where oil production has reached a maximum and will begin a decline due to diminishing reserves. Far from it.

In the past few years, US and world oil reserves have increased markedly due to new discoveries and new technologies. At the same time, the world is using its oil more efficiently thanks to technological advances in engines and aerodynamics. Even with more people and countries using oil, the world’s oil supplies should be abundant for many years to come.