There may be hope for pork producers to return to profitability by second quarter 2009, according to Glenn Grimes, agricultural economist, University of Missouri. USDA's September Hogs and Pigs report released Friday held “no surprises as far as I’m concerned,” according to Grimes.

For fourth quarter 2008 live-hog prices, Grimes predicts $43 to $47 per hundredweight for 51/52 percent lean hogs. He expects first quarter 2009 slaughter to be down 2.1 percent from year-ago levels, with a live-hog price range of $49 to $53 per hundredweight for 51/52 percent lean hogs.

For second quarter 2009, Grimes sees slaughter dropping 6 percent from 2008 levels, and predicts a 51/52 percent lean price of $60 to $64 per hundredweight. In third quarter 2009, Grimes predicts slaughter levels to be down 4 percent from this year, with prices ranging from $62 to $66 per hundredweight for 51/52 percent lean market hogs.

As Grimes points out, his predictions suggest that “unless corn prices really take off from what we are experiencing now, that the second and third quarters of 2009 could be profitable for the average producer.”