The latest Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report shows the largest U.S. hog herd on record and livestock market analysts say the industry is positioned to grow. Iowa is the nation’s top pork producing state, with 22.2 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms. That’s up 7-percent from a year ago.
Lee Schulz, an economist with Iowa State University Extension, projects profitability for many producers. “We’re looking at an annual estimate for 2017 right around that 15-dollars per head,” Schulz says. “That’s very much driven by what we’ve experienced here in the second quarter where profitability looks to be in that 16 to 17 dollar range.”
Joe Kerns, president of Iowa-based Kerns and Associates, says expansion right now isn’t driven by the economics of the industry. “It’s everything to do with the ability to execute,” he says. “Whether you’re in a particular state where permitting is one issue and we have a construction industry that has finite resources. We can’t just expand and contract. If you want slats right now, you can’t save your soul form the devil in order to acquire them.”
Kerns says that is evident by the variability in the growth of the sow herd across several states. “Perhaps as expected with the genesis of the new plant in Iowa…that Iowa added 30,000 sows,” he says. “If you would take the same logic and apply it to the Eastern side where the Coldwater facility is going to be operational here shortly – we don’t see the same thing. You’ve got both Illinois and Indiana with a bit of a decline in their sow numbers.”
Kerns says he expects even more sow herd expansion through the remainder of the year.
Reporting by Meghan Grebner, Brownfield Ag News