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Pork prices may rise

Hog breeding numbers fall

By Gary Gunderson

gunder@agrinews.com

The U.S. ag department's Friday hog inventory report is good news for producers.

The quarterly hog report indicates that the U.S. hog breeding inventory on Sept. 1 was 6.05 million, down 2 percent from Sept. 1, 2001, and down 2 percent from the second quarter of 2002.

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The report also indicated that sows farrowing in June to August 2002 was 2.83 million, down 2 percent from the same time period in 2001, and the U.S. pig crop between June and August 2002 was 25.1 million, also down 2 percent from last year and 2000.

Intended farrowings are estimated at 2.82 million sows between September and November this year, a reduction of 2 percent from actual farrowings during the same time in 2001.

The numbers were welcomed by Ron Plain, ag economist at the University of Missouri, Chris Hurt, professor of ag economics at Purdue University and Jim Robb, director of the Livestock Marketing Information Center in Lakewood, Colo.

The economists said less breeding stock and fewer intended farrowings should return hog producers to break even or better by the second quarter of 2003.

Hurt and the other economists predicted hog prices in the upper $30s in the first quarter of 2003, with prices topping $40 in the second quarter.

Decreases in beef and poultry production, and projected improved exports also brightened the picture. USDA estimates that beef production will decrease 6 percent next year, and Russia will again import American poultry.

This will free up refrigerated storage space and reduce competition among the meats.

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