A December survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
found that hog numbers have moved back up
above the year-earlier level and that further expansion
will likely occur in the months ahead. The indicated expansion
that occurred last fall was a surprise to many
observers who had assumed that breeding problems
during last summer’s heat wave would extend the
downturn in hog numbers that started last spring.
Even more surprising was the indication that the expansion
will extend into the first half of this year, despite
very high feed prices and the likelihood of sizable
operating losses for many producers.