While the rate of productivity growth in the United States may have slowed, the growth has not stopped, say University of Missouri agricultural economists Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain.

For the year ending May 31 the growth from 1997 to 1998 was 5.83 percent, for 1998 to 1999 growth was 2.74 percent, for 1999 to 2000 growth was 4.87 percent, for 2000 to 2001 growth was 1.94 percent, but rebounded to a growth of 2.95 percent for 2001 to 2002.

Growth in litters per animal in the breeding herd showed a 3.56 percent growth from 1997 to 1998, 0.17 percent growth for 1998 to 1999, 1.03-percent growth for 1999 to 2000, held constant 2000 to 2001 and showed a 0.45 percent reduction from 2001 to 2002.

Growth in productivity by heavier weights showed a 0.96 percent growth from 1997 to 1998, 0.46 percent growth from 1998 to 1999, 1.03 percent growth from 1999 to 2000, 1.73 percent growth in 2000 to 2001 and 1.06 percent growth in 2001 to 2002.

Weights also continue to increase. Grimes and Plain say there are economics that are good for both the producer and packer therefore as technology permits hogs to be taken to heavier weights with a higher percentage of lean, hog weights are likely to continue to increase for some time.

Until slaughter capacity increases in the United States, the sow herd will need to continue to decline as productivity growth in number of pigs per animal in the breeding herd gets larger.