The current survey indicates that production grew slightly faster outside of the Corn Belt than it did in the Corn Belt, and was slowest in the eastern Corn Belt during 1999-2000. (See table 6) However, the eastern Corn Belt expects to grow faster between 2001 and 2003 than the other regions and may catch up on production. Rapid production growth seen between 1999 and 2000 is expected to slow going into 2001. This is consistent with USDA's Hogs and Pigs Report estimates. Producers plan to continue expansion from 2001 to 2003, but at a moderate pace.

Table 7 reports the expected change in annual marketings by producer size group. All size categories indicated that they plan to grow into 2003, however, some groups plan to grow more than others. The 2,000-2,999, 5,000-9,999 and > 500,000 producer groups all plan to grow 8 percent from 2001 to 2003. The 50,000-499,999 group plan a 13 percent growth. It is unclear whether the projected production increases account for productivity gains that have averaged 4 percent to 5 percent in recent years, or whether the planned growth is on top of the expected gains.

Regardless of plans made, producers do not always follow through. (See table 8) Notice that producers raising fewer than 5,000 hogs in 1997 planned to expand 6 percent to 15 percent by 2000. In reality, marketings dropped by 20 percent to 27 percent. Producers raising more than 5,000 annually also trimmed growth plans from their 1997 projection – however, they still posted growth. The 10,000-49,999 group came within 2 percentage points of expected growth.

But the area of greatest significance involves producers raising more than 50,000 hogs a year. Those producers exceeded their 1997 growth plans, which they have a tendency to do. Some of the growth occurred by outright expansion, some occurred through aquisitions. Either way, it pushed more producers into the size category (21 more than in 1997). The critical point to watch is whether these producers will expand more than planned going into 2003. If so, the industry will see tremendous pressure on packing capacity.