USDA has released for comment their planned changes to country of origin labeling (COOL) rules for red meats. The changes are an effort to overcome a WTO ruling against our current rules. The proposed changes will require meat to carry three labels - country of birth, country where raised, and country where slaughtered. The proposed changes end the rule exceptions for comingling of muscle cuts from multiple countries. No changes are proposed for labeling of ground meats.
USDA is cancelling their July cattle inventory survey in order to cut costs.
U.S. pork imports were up 4.0 percent in January while pork exports were down 15.7 percent compared to a year ago. This was the third consecutive month with exports below the year-earlier level. Reduced shipments to China accounted for most of the decline. January pork exports equaled 20.5 percent of production while imports equaled 3.3 percent of production. January exports were the smallest share of pork production for any month since January 2011.
Imports of weaner/feeder pigs were up 6.0 percent, but slaughter hog imports were down 11.6 percent compared to January 2012.
Domestic pork demand was up a slight 0.4 percent in January, but export demand was down 17.3 percent. Live hog demand was down only 1.0 percent due to tight packer margins. Export demand for U.S. pork was down for the 7th consecutive month.
Thursday afternoon's calculated pork cutout value was $77.54/cwt, down $1.37 from the previous Thursday, down $5.19 from this week last year, and the lowest for any date since September 20, 2012. Ham, loins, bellies, and butts were all lower this week.
The national average negotiated carcass price for direct delivered hogs on the morning report today was $72.85/cwt, down $1.38 from last Friday. None of the regional reports, eastern corn belt, western corn belt nor Iowa-Minnesota had enough hog sales for a morning price quote.
Peoria had a live top of $49/cwt on Friday. Zumbrota, MN topped at $51/cwt. The top for interior Missouri live hogs today was $53.50/cwt, unchanged from the previous Friday. The national average hog carcass price this morning was 94 percent of the cutout value. That's high enough to pressure hog prices still lower next week.
Hog slaughter this week totaled 2.203 million head, up 0.1 percent from last week and up 1.1 percent compared to the same week last year.
The average barrow and gilt live weight in Iowa-Minnesota last week was 276.9 pounds, up 0.8 pound from a week earlier and up 0.6 pound from the same week last year.
Friday's close for the April lean hog futures contract was $79.67/cwt, down $2.35 from the previous Friday. May hog futures ended the week 92 cents lower at $89.20/cwt. June hogs lost $2.38 this week to settle at $89.32/cwt today. July hog futures ended the week at $90.00/cwt.
Corn futures ended the week higher than the previous Friday.
Source: Ron Plain and Scott Brown