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Hog Capacity Being Monitored

Each spring – Paragon Economics President Steve Meyer prepares an update on capacity in the pork packer industry. At 5.4-days – slaughter capacity per week represents 2.51-million head per week. Meyer says the numbers in Friday’s quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report will put the U.S. industry close to capacity this fall…

“I don’t think we will have numbers much over it. We can run over it, that’s not a hard and fast number, there are a few plants that don’t normally work on Saturday’s that could push that up to 5.5 or 5.6 days per week. Some weeks can run 10 hour shifts for a short time period. A lot of plants have the flexibility of a short run. I don’t think we will be above that number but it will be close.”

Meyer says the biggest worry has been the fall of 2016 – due to concerns about herd expansion. The breeding herd figure in the latest USDA report may ease that concern. However – the litter size may be approaching pre-PEDv levels…

“We get back on that track, then ‘16 could still be a challenge and we will have very little if any more slaughter capacity by the fall of 2016. There is a new plant that announced in Michigan but it will not be in service until 2017. There are rumors of a new one in the western corn belt but hasn’t been started. This fall I think we will be ok, maybe a little tight for a few weeks. Some of my fears about 2016 are being alighted by the breeding herd, but a return to 2% productivity growth per year could put us in a tight spot.”'

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.