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Articles from 2019 In March

This Week in Agribusiness, March 30, 2019

Segment 1

Delaney Howell talks to farmers about its impact and how they’ll move forward.

Chris Norberg, BASF Innovation Specialist, shares insight about planting and ground conditions.

Darin Newsom, Darin Newsom Anlaysis, Inc., lends his market knowledge to viewers, and how the flood and planting will impact market action.

Segment 2

Darin Newsom is back in the newsroom talking livestock markets.

Chad Colby shares his ag tech info and the cell phone accessories that are available.

Segment 3

Chad Colby is back to compare tires and tracks on tractors.

Susan Littlefield, farm broadcaster, reports from Nebraska, about hay donations and other flood recovery efforts.

Segment 4

Max visits with Andrew Fansler, Indiana farmer, who didn’t grow up on the farm, about his background and farm operation. Greg Soulje shares the weather outlook for the week.

Segment 5

Greg Soulje is back with an extended weather outlook.

Segment 6

What’s in Max’s Tractor Shed? A 1958 Cockshutt D50.

This Week in Agribusiness salutes the Bath County High School FFA in Owingsville, Kentucky.

USDA reports are out and Steve talks about acreage and ending stocks.

Segment 7

Max talks about the Half Century of Progress show, the biggest vintage farm show in America.

Orion Samuelson celebrates his birthday this week.

Veterinarians tackle pork industry’s lingering two-legged issues

Ann Hess-National Hog Farmer Veterinarians weighed in on current and future challenges facing the industry during a panel session at Boehringer Ingelheim’s Pre-AASV Symposium.

During the 2010 American Association of Swine Veterinarians annual meeting, Jim Lowe, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois presented the Howard Dunne Memorial Lecture, titled "People, Processes, and Pigs: Are we fixing what is really broken?" Almost 10 years later, the veterinarian says the industry is still trying to tackle some of those challenges.

“We often tend to focus on short-term things that pop up in our face, and not really the underlying system that isn’t functioning appropriately, so we are working on symptoms instead of the actual disease that is occurring in the system,” Lowe says. “That disease is often two-legged and not four-legged, so I don’t think that has particularly changed in the industry today.”

Lowe recently weighed in on current and future challenges facing the industry during a panel session at Boehringer Ingelheim’s Pre-AASV Symposium. While the panel addressed several issues that continue to plague the industry, three key topics stood out.

Having trained labor that stays around is key to having acceptable performance numbers and it’s an area the industry continues to struggle with, says Dave Bomgaars, a veterinarian from northwest Iowa.

He references the Future Ready Iowa Act, the plan Governor Kim Reynolds has rolled out to train Iowans for the jobs of today and tomorrow. The goal of Future Ready Iowa is 70% of Iowa workers having education or training beyond high school by 2025. In order to reach that goal, another 127,700 Iowans will need to earn post-secondary degrees or other credentials.

“I think that’s all good, but as our industry changes, we need to ensure we’re helping make those changes happen smoothly,” Bomgaars says. “Take the packing industry for example – in the not too distant future, ‘maintenance’ is likely going to involve more work on a laptop than it will with a screwdriver. Regardless of the specific changes, it’s still going to require apprenticeship and leadership.”

In addition to training, Bomgaars says the competition for labor is stiff and other work environments continue to be more appealing.

“We need to create something that attracts them, from the redesign of buildings to having more space, more light, better ventilation,” Bomgaars says. “We still have an environment not ideal for people to walk in.”

Production and profitability
The U.S. pork industry’s dependency on exports also continues to be a concern. Bomgaars remembers a National Pork Industry Conference meeting five years ago where there was a push for 28% exports to increase demand. 

“In some respect that is good, but we also need to be aware of the dependency that puts on exports as well,” Bomgaars says. “There are many global factors that affect what producers get for pigs, with the last six months a tremendous drain on equity and working capital,” Bomgaars says. “We haven’t had quite what we thought and as a result we have $46 pigs and break evens of $65 to $70.”

Exports may increase demand for a while, but there’s also a risk to it. That’s why Bomgaars believes the industry should make more efforts domestically. For example, he recently had dinner with a doctor friend who still thought you had to cook pork well done.

“We can say we have told them a million times, but we haven’t taught them,” Bomgaars says. “I think we have so much more with different cuts, different niche markets that we have here, that we need to put together our collective brains and try to get some of it because we haven’t succeeded yet, we haven’t maximized the U.S. market yet.”

Lowe says the industry should also re-think the production system.

“Is that really the model we need to continue to be in? Is that a sustainable model long term?” Lowe says. “We get so concerned about that fixed cost that we don’t necessarily say ‘are we actually maximizing dollars within in the chain and how do we create more value?’”

Total dollars that retail on pigs has been static for a long time, while the percentage of return to the farm gate has been highly variable.

“We are a highly sophisticated system that we continue to run not a whole lot differently than when we had pigs outside,” Lowe says. “We bred sows and we took what we got, so how do we reverse engineer the system instead and look at what technology we can apply; how can we use data and use decision analytics to change how we operate the system.”

Lowe also questions standard industry metrics. Are they really the things that drive business profitability or are we chasing intermediate measures?

“We’ve doubled output per sow, yet we make less money as an industry,” Lowe says. “Maybe we are keeping score wrong. Who cares about how many pigs per sow per year you make if you don’t make any more money?” Lowe says. “Yes, we have become more efficient, but our return on net investment capital is probably not any better, it’s probably worse.”

Instead of improving production numbers, Bomgaars argues that maybe the industry should focus on genetic changes that could improve disease resistance and produce carcasses that are juicer and more flavorful.

“The numbers won’t be as good, but maybe the numerator can go up and we don’t worry about the denominator quite so much,” Bomgaars says. “I think it’s time to look at the return side and see what they want, rather than what we can produce cheap.”

If the U.S. wasn’t prepared for porcine epidemic diarrhea, will it be the same with African swine fever?

Lowe acknowledges ASF is not porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, nor PEDV, but if the industry looks to the outbreaks in Europe as an example, the U.S. should be in good shape to contain it. Movement in Europe has been primarily in domestic pigs through garbage feeding and pig movement, however there have been infrequent incursions into commercial swine populations.

“The virus does not move easily. In some of these herds they have been able to depopulate buildings within complexes and not spread to the rest of the site,” Lowe says. “It’s taking weeks to move through 1,000 head finishing barns, not days.”

While the U.S. has a different transportation structure in place and there is a concern that ASF could show up in the U.S. without us seeing any clinical signs, Lowe says he’s more concerned about increasing beagle brigade numbers and catching the prohibited pork products coming through international travel.

Bomgaars also sees a risk from parents that are sending care packages to their college children who are studying in America. For example, Iowa State University and University of Illinois have large populations of students that are from places that are ASF-infected, including China.

“It only takes one piece of product that is contaminated that gets thrown out the window where they happen to have a pig exposure,” Bomgaars says.

Lowe agrees and points out another area of concern in the U.S. is garbage feeding.

“The problem is that lack of surveillance, that is our big gap,” Lowe says. “I am less worried about our commercial pigs, because if it looks weird enough, everyone will get excited.”


U.S. continues negotiations with China

Bet_Noire-GettyImages U.S. continues negotiations with China.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are leading the U.S. delegation this week in Bejing to continue negotiations on resolving the U.S.-China trade war. China’s lead trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, will be in D.C. beginning on April 3 to continue the negotiations.

One of the issues that will need to be addressed is tariffs. President Trump said the U.S. will not immediately lift tariffs on the $250 billion of Chinese goods, even if the U.S. and China reach an agreement. He wants the tariffs to remain in place to ensure that China abides by the terms of any agreement.   

Last week, China purchased 300,000 metric tons of U.S. corn. This is the largest corn purchase since October 2013. Earlier this month, China purchased 23,800 metric tons of U.S. pork which was the largest weekly purchase since April 2017. 

Trump wins tariff court case
The U.S. Court of International Trade handed President Trump a victory when it ruled his use of a national security justification to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum was constitutional. 

The American Institute for International Steel sued the administration arguing that the president exceeded his authority when he justified “national security” under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act for imposing tariffs. 

The Court said in its ruling “Identifying the line between regulation of trade in furtherance of national security and an impermissible encroachment into the role of Congress could be elusive in some cases because judicial review would allow neither an inquiry into the president’s motives nor a review of his fact-finding.”

The AIIS announced it will appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ag must be part of any EU trade agreement
A bipartisan group of 114 Congressional members are insisting that agriculture be a part of any trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union. The members wrote USTR Ambassador Robert Lighthizer in support of keeping agricultural products as a key negotiating objective in any proposed trade agreement with the EU.

In a letter to Lighthizer, the members wrote, “As you know, agriculture is the source of a great number of trade barriers and irritants in the U.S.-EU trading relationship. Thus, an agreement with the EU that does not address trade in agriculture would be, in our eyes, unacceptable. We want to voice our strong support for the inclusion of agriculture in the upcoming discussions and to reiterate that an agreement that fails to include agricultural products would be deficient, significantly jeopardizing Congressional support.”

Last December, a number of agricultural organizations applauded Lighthizer’s efforts to include agriculture in any trade agreement with the EU. The EU continues to say that agriculture will not be a part of a U.S.-EU trade agreement.

Food inflation down
USDA’s Economic Research Service is estimating that retail food prices will increase around 1% for 2019. The average annual increase for retail prices over the past 20 years has been 2%. 

Various products are expected to have lower prices this year including pork, eggs, fats and oils, fresh vegetables, and processed fruits and vegetables. Retail pork prices are expected to decrease between 2 and 3% this year.

Prices for beef, fish and seafood, sugars, and sweets are expected to increase in 2019. However, the increase is estimated to be less than historical averages. Beef and veal are estimated to increase 2 to 3%.

Food purchases at restaurants are estimated to increase between 2 to 3% for 2019. 

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Amid trade disputes, smaller markets step up demand for U.S. pork

Getty Images Birds-eye view of a shipping yard with a freighter full of shipping containers.

Retaliatory tariffs continued to pressure U.S. pork exports in January, however the industry’s longstanding efforts to diversify into new markets is filling some of that gap. January exports of both U.S. pork and beef were slightly below last year’s volume levels while export value posted mixed results, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

January pork exports were also down 1% from a year ago at 201,835 metric tons, with value dropping 9% to $494.1 million. Export value averaged $44.75 per head slaughtered, down 12% year-over-year. Exports accounted for 23.6% of total January pork production, down from 24.7% a year ago. For muscle cuts only the ratio was 20.3%, down from 21.5%.

Beef exports slipped 1% year-over-year to 104,766 mt, but value still increased 3% to $642.3 million. Export value per head of fed slaughter pulled back from the red-hot pace of 2018, averaging $284.86, down 3% from a year ago. January exports accounted for 12.2% of total beef production and 9.7% for muscle cuts only, down from 12.4% and 10.1%, respectively, in January 2018.

Results for both beef and pork were bolstered by stronger variety meat volumes. Beef variety meat exports totaled 26,630 in January, up 7% from a year ago, valued at $81.8 million (up 19%). This was fueled by strong performances in Japan, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region and Africa. Pork variety meat exports climbed 5% year-over-year to 41,143 mt, led by increases in Mexico, Japan, Central and South America and Taiwan. But value was still down 11% to $81 million, because exports to China, the leading market for U.S. pork variety meat, remain subject to China’s 50% retaliatory duties.

U.S. pork exports grow in emerging, developing markets
Retaliatory duties continued to pressure U.S. pork exports to Mexico in January, with volume down 9% from a year ago to 66,293 mt. Export value absorbed an even harsher blow, dropping 28% to $96.1 million. While the U.S. is still Mexico’s main pork supplier, Canada’s January exports to Mexico were up 26% to 11,500 mt and EU exports increased 91% to 305 mt. Chile’s volume was steady at 690 mt.

Exports to China/Hong Kong also felt the sting of China’s retaliatory duties, dropping 16% from a year ago in volume (26,744 mt) and 32% in value ($53.2 million).

While Japan’s import duties on U.S. pork remain unchanged, Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership countries received tariff relief at the end of 2018 and will see another rate decrease on April 1. This likely contributed to the January decline in U.S. pork exports to Japan, which were down 6% from a year ago in volume (32,910 mt) and 8% in value ($135.2 million). Lower duty rates for European pork under the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement were implemented Feb. 1, so the EPA’s impact was not yet reflected in Japan’s January import data.

“Trade barriers in these large, mainstay markets are very unsettling for major customers of U.S. pork and are hurting the entire U.S. supply chain, so it is essential that they are addressed in a timely manner,” says Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. “On a positive note, the U.S. industry’s longstanding efforts to expand and diversify international destinations for U.S. pork have never been more important, and it is gratifying to see impressive growth in many of our emerging and developing markets.”

January highlights for U.S. pork include:

  • Led by continued record exports to Colombia and a surge in shipments to Chile, pork exports to South America increased 57% in volume (12,752 mt) and 61% in value ($31.3 million). Exports were also higher year-over-year to Ecuador and Uruguay.
  • Strong growth in Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala moved exports to Central America 18% higher year-over-year in volume (7,271 mt) and 15% higher in value ($16.6 million).
  • Exports to the Dominican Republic remained on a roll, increasing 29% from a year ago in both volume (3,289 mt) and value ($7.2 million).
  • Growing exports to Canada (16,165 mt, +13%) indicate the U.S. is backfilling Canada’s product needs as more Canadian pork is bound for China, Japan and Mexico. Canadian pork production is not increasing, therefore Canada needs to import more U.S. pork to meet domestic demand. This situation will continue until retaliatory tariffs on U.S. pork exports to China and Mexico are removed and could intensify across other markets as China’s buying ramps up due to African swine fever.
  • Pork exports to both Australia and New Zealand were higher year-over-year in January, pushing results for Oceania up 22% in volume (9,272 mt) and 12% in value ($24.8 million).
  • Led by excellent growth in the Philippines and Singapore, exports to the ASEAN region were up 28% in volume (3,895 mt) and 25% in value ($9.9 million).
  • Strong demand in Taiwan pushed January exports to 2,561 mt (up 153%) valued at $4.9 million (up 70%). The results for pork muscle cuts were even more impressive, nearly tripling in volume (1,780 mt, up 196%) and climbing 149% in value to $3.8 million. Taiwan is importing less pork from the EU and Canada so U.S. pork is gaining market share, climbing from 9% in January 2018 to 19.5% this year.

Pork exports to Korea eased from the record-breaking pace of 2018 but remained strong at 18,491 mt, down 2% year-over-year, with value down 8% to $50 million

Japan, Korea set strong early pace for 2019 beef exports
January beef exports to leading market Japan increased 8% year-over-year to 25,925 mt, valued at $167 million (up 12%). Variety meat exports to Japan (mainly tongues) were especially strong, soaring by 36% in both volume (4,645 mt) and value ($31.4 million). January was the first full month in which competitors of U.S. beef received tariff relief in Japan under the CPTPP with the import duty rate dropping from 38.5 to 27.5% on Dec. 30, 2018. This gap will widen further on April 1, when the rate for CPTPP countries drops to 26.6%.

“It’s great to see Japan’s demand for U.S. beef increase in January despite these tariff rate changes for our major competitors,” Halstrom says. “But this disadvantage will become more and more pronounced over time, so negotiations toward a U.S.-Japan trade agreement cannot come soon enough. The playing field needs to be leveled as quickly as possible so that the U.S. industry can continue to capitalize on booming meat demand in Japan.”

Following a record-shattering year, beef exports to South Korea increased 4% in January to 17,900 mt, with value up 10% to $134.3 million. U.S. beef enjoys a tariff rate advantage under the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, with the import duty rate declining from 40 to 18.7% since KORUS was implemented in 2012 (the rates for Australian and Canadian beef are 24 and 26.6%, respectively). U.S. beef is benefiting from several new trends in Korea, including mid-priced steak restaurants (also underway in Japan), inclusion of beef cuts such as chuckeye roll and short plate in meal kits sold at retail and through e-commerce, and demand for a wider range of U.S. beef cuts, such as brisket point, in Korean barbecue establishments.

Other January highlights for U.S. beef include:

  • Export volume to Mexico was steady with last year at 21,194, but value climbed 14% to $101.7 million. The results for beef muscle cuts were especially strong, increasing 16% in volume (12,532 mt) and 21% in value ($78.2 million).
  • Led by Indonesia and the Philippines, exports to the ASEAN region jumped 49% from a year ago in volume (4,644 mt) and 31% in value ($20.7 million). Variety meat exports more than doubled from a year ago to 1,941 mt (up 107%), with value up 85% to $3.8 million.
  • Strong growth in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras drove beef exports to Central America up 39% to 1,508 mt, while value was up 36% to $8 million.
  • Exports to Taiwan were steady with last January at 4,215 mt, but value was down 12% to $36.8 million.
  • A slow month in Hong Kong partially offset growth in other markets, as exports fell by 36% in volume to 7,047 mt, while value was down 28% to $57.4 million.
Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Ottumwa restaurant wins IPPA Pulled Pork Madness

Upyanose-GettyImages Pulled pork

An Ottumwa restaurant beat out 15 other competitors to take the championship bracket of Pulled Pork Madness sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers Association . Warehouse Barbecue Co. was the top vote-getter in this social media contest that had 2,200 votes cast as Iowans worked their way through the Sweet Sixteen group announced March 13.

IPPA's Consumer Outreach director Kelsey Byrnes initially invited Iowa Pork social media followers to nominate the Iowa restaurant they felt had the best pulled pork sandwich. About 1,130 pork fans nominated 80 restaurants and Byrnes then selected the top two vote-getters in each of IPPA's eight districts to fill out the "Sweet 16" bracket that got the head-to-head contests underway.

In the championship round, Warehouse Barbecue Co. defeated Iowa BBQ Co. of Le Mars.

Warehouse Barbecue Co. is owned by a father and son duo, Dusty and Roger Ware. The menu describes their winning Pulled Pork as made from hickory-smoked Duroc premium pork. You can order a pulled pork sandwich, or buy the pulled pork in ¼, ½, or 1-pound quantities.

“We hold this social media contest to attract new pork fans and remind people that there are restaurants in all parts of Iowa that offer really great barbecue pork,” Byrnes says.

Along with bragging rights, Warehouse Barbecue Co. receives $250 and a "Pulled Pork Madness" plaque.

This is the second year for the contest. The inaugural winner of Pulled Pork Madness in 2018 was Moo's BBQ in Newton.

Source: Iowa Pork Producers Association, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

MORNING Midwest Digest, March 29, 2019

Interest rates dropped; the biggest weekly rate drop in 10 years.

With all the trade focused on China, we need to remember that the USMCA still needs to be ratified.

There's a new use for drones in Australia: herding. 


Photo: monsitj/Getty Images

China’s pork producers getting aggressive on ASF

China Photos/Getty Images Second case of ASF found in China

Last week it was reported that China’s second largest pork producer had its eye on expansion, despite the country’s massive outbreak of African swine fever. Qin Yinglin, chairman of Muyuan Foodstuff told the South China Morning Post the company planned to “ride this violent hurricane out and turn it into a superb opportunity.”

The article went on to say that the Henan-based pork production system had also implemented several new biosecurity measures, including disinfecting trucks used to transport pigs, sterilizing animal feed with heat and filtering the air in farms.

With the ASF rumor mill running and estimates of 10-20 real cases for every new one reported, it’s refreshing to hear some of the biosecurity measures larger pork producers are taking place in the East Asian nation, and it reiterates what some in the global pork industry have been saying recently about the situation.

During the recent Annual Association of Swine Veterinarians annual meeting, one veterinarian based in China described biosecurity protocols that are not typically seen in U.S. systems. For example, on one 2,400-sow farm, employees shower into a living area, and during the time they are working they stay in the perimeter and live there. Then when they go to work they shower into the farm.

With 25 to 30 people living on the farm at a time, all supplies must be brought to them, which not only includes food but clothes for the staff to wear in barns and in living areas. No pork products are allowed to be brought into the farm. This also means sourcing food from local greenhouses that have no contact with pigs and avoiding buying produce from markets where pork is sold.

Scott Dee and Gordon Spronk, veterinarians with Pipestone Veterinary Services, recently attended a swine conference in China where Dee says their presentation was met with much interest.

“I was very pleasantly surprised at how aggressive the producers are getting,” Dee says. “The Chinese producers are testing feed, they are working together, they want to write resolutions like we have. They really want to organize.”

More than 1,100 producers were present and another 100,000 took in their presentation online. Dee says it was a very positive vibe and that the Chinese pork producers “are hungry for information on the risk of feed.”

“There are some amazingly talented people there from the production side. The companies are really good, and I learned a lot from them,” Dee says. “They are really aggressive. That is exciting to see because that will help us control the epidemic if the source starts to do something on site to reduce risk.”

While speculation of ASF impact in China continues to run rampant, it’s good to hear some of the extra biosecurity procedures major global pork players are implementing there. We may not have ASF here yet, but we can certainly learn from the outbreak in China as well as Russia and the European Union.

As Clayton Johnson, Carthage Veterinary Service points out, “We should humbly accept our own failures in preventing the introduction and establishment of porcine epidemic diarrhea, Seneca Valley Virus, delta coronavirus and other diseases, which have entered the U.S. and now reside as endemic pathogens. We must improve our outbreak management capabilities, or we are doomed to repeat our failures.” 

Farm Progress America, March 29, 2019

Max Armstrong offers a look at the spread of facial recognition which could be used in some interesting places. For example, there’s work in Scotland that animal behaviorists have teamed with engineers to “read” the faces of pigs to determine when they may be in distress. Max offers more information on the tool.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Photo: Scotland’s Rural College – this is an example image of the facial recognition system

USDA hog numbers on par with pre-report estimates

National Pork Board Sow with a large litter of white pigs

The USDA’s quarterly Hogs and Pigs report released today was neck and neck with analysts’ pre-report expectations. The U.S. inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1 was 74.296 million head. This was up 2.1% from March 1, 2018. Steve Meyer, Kerns and Associates says Urner Barry analysts had pegged that number to be up 2%.

Breeding inventory, at 6.349 million head, was up 2.2% from last year, and up slightly from the previous quarter. Analysts had expected that number to be up 1.9%. Market hog inventory, at 67.948 million head, was up 2.1% from last year, exactly what analysts believed this number would be compared to a year ago.

United States hog producers intend to have 3.12 million sows farrow during the March-May 2019 quarter, up 1% from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2018, and up 3% from 2017. Intended farrowings for June-August 2019, at 3.19 million sows, are down slightly from 2018, but up 3% from 2017. Urner Barry analysts had expected that figure to be up 2.3% and that was the largest discrepancy versus analyst pre-report estimates.

The December-February 2019 pig crop, at 32.99 million head, was up 2.8% from 2018, precisely the year-over-year change analysts had expected. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.08 million head, up 2% from 2018. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 49% of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high of 10.70 for the December-February period, compared to 10.58 last year.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 47% of the total United States hog inventory, unchanged from the previous year.

Based on the numbers outlined, Kevin Grier, president of Kevin Grier Consulting and Analysis, based in Guelph, Canada, says he is looking for about a 2% increase in slaughter in second and third quarters and then based on farrowing intentions and normal increases in pigs per litter, 1% in both the fourth quarter 2019 and first quarter of 2020.

“There could perhaps be some skepticism with regards to that last farrowing intention, but giving it for what it is, I’m only looking for a 1% increase in slaughter in quarter one of 2020,” Grier says. “Again these are increases on top of huge, huge numbers and that’s really what the reality of it is – a lot of pork.”

John Nalivka, president, Sterling Marketing, Vale, Ore. says the U.S. “continues to have plenty of hogs; there is no doubt about that.”

“I think we see with the losses that occurred on the production side of this business going into the second half of last year and the first quarter of this year, there has been some slowing down of the expansion phase,” Nalivka says. “You can hold your breeding herd steady and your sows steady, but at the same time you continue to see that production efficiency and increased pace on that farrowing rate, so we continue to have these larger pig crops so it fills that gap going into this increased packer capacity.”

Meyer, Grier and Nalivka, along with Kevin Bost, president of Procurement Strategies, Elgin, Ill. were all participants on a Pork Checkoff-hosted conference call after the report was released this afternoon.

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, March 28, 2019

NCAA tournament action continues with three teams from the heartland.

U.S. Senators are urging the USDA secretary to provide Livestock Indemnity Program assistance as soon as possible.

In Nebraska many head of cattle have been lost, but perhaps not as many as estimated.

Doctors in China and Italy are making progress in connecting severed spinal cords. There has also been head transplant research.


Photo: Ultima_Gaina/Getty Images