Hog farmers struggled with a coronavirus-caused backlog of market-ready hogs that peaked at 3.5 million head at the end of May, forcing them to cull some and slowing weight gain on others. The backlog remains large, but Purdue economist Jayson Lusk says farmers may see "possibly elevated hog prices" by the end of the year as the hog supply shrinks.
As many as 2 million hogs are backed up on U.S. farms because of coronavirus slowdowns and shutdowns at meatpacking plants, said three economists on Thursday, with the backlog likely to persist into the fall. The oversupply will weigh on market prices unless there is a strong recovery as the economy reopens, they said. (No paywall)
Nationwide, pork production has dropped by more than 20 percent over the last month, and industrial farmers find their barns filling up. Now, the "end for hundreds of thousands of pigs is likely to arrive in an orgy of waste that turns the stomachs of even the most pragmatic," writes Elizabeth Royte, in FERN's latest story. "Asked to describe how a farmer decides to 'depopulate' — the word of choice — a barn full of market-ready pigs, David Newman, a Missouri pig farmer and president of the National Pork Board, sighs heavily. 'It’s a tremendously emotional time to be in the livestock business. We’re trying to be creative.'”(No paywall)
Pork producers will struggle through this winter with market prices below the cost of production, says economist Chris Hurt of Purdue University. "Record pork production and trade disputes continue to be the near-term drag on prices," wrote Hurt at the farmdoc Daily blog, adding that futures prices in the spring and summer "will be high enough to provide profitability."
The world's leading hog producer, China has culled nearly 40,000 hogs in its attempts to stop African swine fever since the disease, deadly for hogs but no threat to humans, was spotted on its farms last month. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said the disease will almost certainly emerge in other countries in Asia.
The U.S. hog inventory is up 3 percent from a year ago, according to a quarterly report by USDA. Beef and poultry production are also expanding, leading USDA to forecast a nearly 4-percent increase in the meat supply this year. The increase is so large that per capita meat consumption is expected to increase by 5.6 pounds, to 222.4 pounds per person.
Hog farmers can thank increased international demand for U.S. pork for the profit-making market prices in the months ahead, says Purdue economist Chris Hurt. Writing at farmdoc Daily, Hurt forecasts an average market price of 50 cents a pound for hogs, nearly 4 cents higher than the average price in 2016.
Market prices for wheat, corn and hogs fell this fall to their lowest level in 10 years, said Purdue economist Chris Hurt, who predicts farmers will lose money on hogs for months to come. "The industry will need to consider a reduction in the breeding herd in the last half of 2017 in order to boost prices back closer to break-evens in 2018," says Hurt at farmdoc Daily.