Pork’s Predicament

It’s been a bumpy ride for the pork industry recently. And while the attitude has been a bit doom and gloom, things are starting to look up.

Processing lines slowed down on June 30, after a ruling based upon the USDA New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) which struck down faster harvest facility inspection speeds. The ruling affected six plants and eliminated 2.5% of pork plant capacity nationwide.

Then there was PRRS (Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome): not just any instance of the illness, but the worst strain of the virus yet. Vaccines have been ineffective, and biosecurity protocols aren’t working for the PRRS 1-4-4 Lineage 1C.

Soundbite: “There were some weird twists going on with this strain of PRRS virus. We were having summer infections in regions of very low density. And really, what concerned us was people were giving up. There was a defeatist attitude permeating the industry,” said Scott Dee, DVM, director of research for Pipestone Research.

What it all means: Across the board, hog and pig numbers have decreased compared to 2020, any way you slice it. Total inventory was 75.4M head on September 1, down 4% from a year ago. Breeding numbers are down 2% from a year ago.

But the outlook is improving with slightly more pigs anticipated to be farrowed between December 2021 and February 2022.