Red ink has caused pork producers to scale back production. The most recent inventory surveys cite the U.S. breeding herd as down 2.4 percent on Dec. 1, with the Canadian breeding herd down 7.1 percent on Jan. 1, from the previous year’s levels.

Combined U.S. and Canadian farrowings were down 5.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 and are forecast to be down 3.3 percent in the first quarter of 2009, with the second quarter down 1.8 percent. Looking to the second half of the year, the cyclical nature of farrowing would imply that farrowed litters will be down only slightly from year-earlier levels.