|By SUSAN BLOWER
WASHINGTON, D.C. — No big surprises in the USDA’s Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report is “good news,” said agricultural economists Friday during a media teleconference.
“The report was very close to trade expectations. There were no big surprises, which is good news for producers,” said Ron Plain, extension livestock economist at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
The USDA released its report earlier on Friday.
Despite 20 consecutive months of profits, pork producers have not increased their swine-breeding herd by much, 2/10th of 1 percent, resulting in slow growth.
Plain and the other panel economists agreed that the future looks bright, as well.
Plain believes the first three quarters of 2006 will result in continued profits, but the fourth quarter may see some red ink, with farmers selling at a loss.
The other economists were similar in their estimates.
Plain attributed four years of high demand for hogs to the Atkin’s Diet, which encourages high protein and low carbohydrate intake. He said as the diet’s popularity wanes, demand will weaken, affecting 2006’s fourth quarter.
Robin Fuller, president of Tallgrass Consulting in Lancaster, Wis., projects an increase of 2-3 percent in production. This and Atkin’s slow fade, as well as a weaker demand in Japan in 2006, will combine to affect the tail end of next year, she said.
Darrell Mark, extension livestock marketing specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, agreed that prices will flatten to the lower to mid-50s per cwt.
The teleconference was hosted by the National Pork Board. Through the legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest 40 cents for each $100 value of hogs sold. Pork importers invest a comparable amount.
The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and food service marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health and pork safety.
For more information on Checkoff-funded programs, visit www.porkboard.org