USDA analysts have reduced their cattle- and hog-price forecasts, predicting higher cattle slaughter, decreased beef exports and heavy hog-slaughter numbers through year's end.

In last Friday's monthly World Supply and Demand Report, USDA forecasters estimated live barrow/gilt prices as for 2007 as averaging $46.98 per hundredweight, down from October's forecast of $47.73. For 2008, forecasters cut its price estimate to $44 to $47 per hundredweight compared to $44 to $48 predicted in October.

As for average national choice steer prices, USDA estimates point to an average of $91.61 per hundredweight in 2007, compared with its October forecast of $92.11. The 2008 average price forecast is now predicted in a range of $87 to $94 per hundredweight versus $88 to $95 in USDA's October forecast.

The report pointed to higher total meat supplies as pressuring prices.

USDA forecasters raised their pork exports forecast as lower prices and a weaker U.S. dollar are expected to boost sales. For 2008, they look for pork exports to push up to 3.180 billion pounds versus the 3.085 billion predicted last month.

USDA cut its U.S. beef export estimates to reflect South Korea's export suspension. The outcome will depend on successful negotiation of new import protocols. USDA adjusted its 2008 total U.S. beef export forecast to 1.710 billion pounds, down from its October forecast of 1.875 billion.

Source: USDA