Hog Herd Shrinkage Is Tapering Off

Canadian hog farmers continued a four-year downsizing trend in the first quarter, but the pace is slowing even though the government is paying some to cease production.

Farmers reduced the national pig herd 2.1 per cent from a year earlier to 11.635 million head as of April 1, Statistics Canada said April 28.

Canada’s hog farmers have suffered from years of unprofitability due to a series of factors including a stronger Canadian dollar and volatile feed costs.

Lately, though, prices are improving.

Chicago lean hog futures have nearly doubled in value to about 88 U. S. cents per lb. since mid-August amid tight supplies and strong demand for pork.

Canada’s sow inventory dropped 5.7 per cent to 1.3 million head as of April 1, StatsCan said.

Canadian hog exports, which have been hit hard by the country-of-origin meat labelling law in the United States that raises U. S. packer costs of processing foreign hogs, fell 20.5 per cent to 1.4 million hogs from a year earlier.

China, U. S. Officials To Start Beef Talks

The U. S. Agriculture Department may soon begin talks with counterparts from China on restarting U. S. beef exports banned since 2003, according to a report quoting a top USDA official June 9.

“We think that the potential, in terms of the beef market, in China is very, very significant,” said Jim Miller, the USDA’s undersecretary in charge of trade issues, in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires.

In 2003, U. S. beef sales to China were worth about $23 million, but the potential has since increased, Miller said.

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