In 2008, the United States saw red-hot pork export sales. There were several reasons for that, including a big jump in U.S. pork production, a pork shortfall in China and a weak U.S. dollar. That last factor has changed dramatically since early July. For the first half of 2008, the dollar was at the lowest level in several decades. Then in December, it was the strongest since spring 2006.

A strong dollar should slow exports. Through the first seven months of 2008, pork exports were up 71 percent. Three months later they were still up but less so, at 40 percent. USDA is forecasting 2009 pork exports to be down for the first time since 1990.