The U.S. swine herd needs to undergo an additional 5 percent to 10 percent reduction from current levels according to agricultural economist Glenn Grimes, University of Missouri. The comments came at last week’s World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa.

“We have to downsize and we have to downsize substantially,” says Grimes. “Figuring out how to do that is the challenge facing the pork industry for the next twelve months.”

Recently however, sow slaughter has declined- the opposite of what is needed, according to Grimes. For the week ending May 23, sow slaughter was down 11 percent from 2008 levels. Grimes believes the breeding herd on June 1 was down about two percent from a year ago but little changed over the past few months.

The economist warned that due to continued productivity growth, a decrease in pork exports, weaker domestic demand and high feed costs producers may see red ink continue for the next 12 months.

The problem lies with production costs, not demand, according to Grimes. He told producers gathered at last week’s World Pork Expo that the three strongest forces influencing the current situation in the pork industry are oil prices, the nation’s biofuel policy and the overall economy.

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