The average pork producer started losing money in October 2007, and continued in 12 of the next 14 months. That’s more than long enough to trigger cuts in the sow herd. Weekly average sow slaughter during the first quarter of 2008 was up 5.6 percent from the previous year. It was 12.3 percent higher in the second quarter and 7.5 percent in the third.  But as of this writing, fourth-quarter sow slaughter was on pace to be down slightly compared to October-December 2007.

Lower feed prices and strong 2008 exports seem to have renewed producers’ optimism. The U.S. pork supply will be much tighter in 2009. If the economy can gain some stability, hog and pork prices should increase rapidly as we move into 2009.