USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins says despite plummeting prices, the hog industry will not see a repeat of 1998, when huge supplies drove prices to about $10 per hundredweight.

Collins says last week two million hogs were slaughtered in the United States for the first time this year, pressuring prices to fall to around $20 per hundredweight. Collins says USDA is still forecasting hog prices in the fourth quarter would average “up in the high $20 range.”

“Whenever we get up to killing two million head a week, that puts a lot of downward pressure on prices,” says Collins. “However, the department has not been expecting a collapse in hog prices the way we saw in 1998.”

Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hog futures were sharply lower in early trading after the Labor Day holiday. CME hogs for October delivery were off 0.925 cents at 29.950 cents per pound.

Last week, Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa, advised producers to sell hogs now rather than create an avalanche this fall that could bury prices.