The USDA's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry report, released Wednesday, showed that the United States imported more than 803 million pounds of pork last year, a decrease of 7 percent from 2010. More than likely, lower exchange rate values throughout 2011 made pork from Canada—supplier of 79 percent of U.S. imports— less competitively priced than in the past. This year, the same variable- the U.S. dollar exchange rate, and increasing domestic supplies, will likely continue to limit U.S. pork imports. Total 2012 imports are expected to be almost 2 percent lower than last year.

Imports of live swine in 2011—almost all of which are of Canadian origin—were almost 1 percent above those of 2010, at 5.8 million head. The only category that showed gains relative to 2010 was that of early weaned pigs--animals weighing less than 15.4 pounds. Imports of early-weaned pigs were almost 12 greater than in 2010, likely reflecting strong demand in the United States that derived from strong U.S. hog prices.

USDA forecasts for 2012 pork exports and imports remained unchanged in February, at 5.1 billion pounds on the export side, and 785 million pounds on the import side. Exports are expected to be roughly the same as last year, while imports are likely to be about 2 percent lower than a year ago, given continued relative weakness in the U.S. exchange rate, and larger expected domestic pork availability this year. USDA will release the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report on March 30th and the Livestock and Poultry: World Market and Trade on April 20, 2012.