A Midwest ag economist is predicting a return to profitability for pork producers. But, Purdue University’s Chris Hurt says the turnaround likely won’t come until sometime next year.
Back in August, Hurt suggested pork producers could face losses this fall that haven’t been seen since the late 1990s. “The outlook is still suggesting losses this fall and winter, but much less than in August,” Hurt says. He’s now forecasting losses of $10 to $20 per-head this fall and winter, while projecting profits of $5 to $10 next spring and summer.
Hurt points to positive export developments with Mexico, Japan, and South Korea. Needless to say, the pork outlook has improved with considerable uncertainties remaining,” Hurt says. Those uncertainties center primarily on the trade dispute with China and that country’s attempt to control African Swine Fever. In addition, tariffs on U.S. pork to Mexico and Canada remain in place despite the recent U.S. trade deal with those two countries.
Hurt says one certainty is that pork supplies will be at record levels and an expanding U.S. hog herd probably cannot be sustained. Iowa is by far the country’s leading pork producer. The U.S.D.A. reported last month that Iowa now has a record 23.6 million pigs.