USDA’s September Hogs and Pigs report held no major surprises, and with the total inventory down 2 percent and the breeding herd down 3 percent, profitability should remain through most of 2004.

Long-term the outlook may not be quite as rosey, as weight breakdowns indicate liquidation may be slowing and the United States could be producing more pork by the end of 2004 than they did in 2003, depending on productivity growth.

The inventory of market hogs weighing 180 pounds or more on September 1 was 4.7 percent smaller than a year ago. Daily slaughter during September appears to be down a bit over 4 percent from September 2002. That looks to be about right when you take into account the increase in Canadian slaughter hogs.

The number of market hogs weighing 120 pounds to 179 pounds on September 1 was down 1.6 percent from last year. The number weighing 60 pounds to 119 pounds was down 0.6 percent.  Both numbers seem high, but higher imports may again help explain the discrepancy.

The inventory of pigs weighing less than 60 pounds was down 1 percent. The inventory of hogs weighing 60 pound to 179 pounds was down only 1 percent from 2002 levels. However, over the last 12 weeks the United States has imported an average of nearly 22,000 more slaughter hogs per week than during the same period in 2002, according to Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain, University of Missouri agricultural economists.

Here are the economists’ price and slaughter projections based on the report:

 Quarter

Slaughter (million hd.) 

Terminal Mkt. ($/cwt.) 

51-52% Lean hogs ($/cwt.) 

4 2003

26.54

$33-$36 

$36-$39 

1 2004

24.87

$35-$38 

$38-$41 

2 2004

24.16

$38-$41 

$41-$44 

3 2004

25.03

$37-$40 

$40-$43 

4 2004

26.52

$32-$35 

$35-$38