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U.S. Hog Herd Expands Modestly On Record Prices

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U.S. hog producers expanded herds more than expected this summer as record-high hog prices helped defray high feeding costs, analysts said Sept. 28 following a government hog report.

The expansion will help boost pork production and keep retail pork prices in check. However, the pace of that herd growth was limited by corn prices hitting a record high near $8 a bushel in June.

The bottom line is the potential profitability in the industry is still there despite high-priced grain, said Don Roose, analyst with U.S. Commodities.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday reported the U.S. hog herd as of Sept. 1 at 101 per cent of a year ago, or 66.6 million head. Analysts, on average, expected 100.5 per cent.

USDA pegged the breeding herd at 101 per cent of a year ago, or 5.8 million head, versus trade expectations for it to be 100.1 per cent of a year ago.

The market-ready hog supply came in at 101 per cent, or 60.79 million head, above the trade average of 100.5 per cent.

USDA reported pigs per litter at 102 per cent of a year ago, which about matched analysts average forecast of 101.9 forecast. USDA s data was consistent with previous reports, which showed two per cent annual increases during the past two years, said analysts.

U.S. to ban more E. coli strains

The U.S. government is expected to ban the sale of ground beef contaminated with six types of the E. coli bacteria that can cause serious cases of food borne illness, food safety and industry groups said.

So far, one type of E. coli, 0157: H7, is banned as an adulterant, the result of an outbreak of illness in 1944 from under-cooked hamburgers. The other types of E. coli, 026, 011, 045, 0121, 0103 and 0145, known as the big six for their role in causing illness, would also be banned from ground beef under USDA s plan.

The American Meat Institute, which represents packers, opposed the action and said few U.S. illnesses are attributed to the six bacteria.

USDA would be wiser to focus on technology to reduce occurrence of the bacteria rather than to spend millions of dollars to test for it, AMI said in a statement.

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