USDA sees pig virus limiting hog supply; cattle prices up in FY 2014

Feb 20 (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Thursday the spread of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) through the U.S. hog herd will “sharply limit” the supply of hogs compared to earlier expectations.

“Mortality rates due to PEDv have been highest among young piglets which have curtailed the growth in the number of pigs per litter and will likely slow expansion,” said Joseph Glauber, USDA’s chief economist.

At its annual Agricultural Outlook conference, the USDA said expansion in the U.S. red meat sector would remain slow due to the decline in cattle inventory.

“While cattle numbers have been trending down since the 1970s, the continued drought in the Southern Plains has resulted in large declines in the cattle herd,” Glauber said.

The USDA projected that U.S. steer prices would rise 8 percent in fiscal 2014 to a record $136 per hundredweight, while hog prices would fall 2 percent. Prices for broilers were seen falling 2.2 percent and milk prices rising 6 percent.

USDA said meat and poultry prices would rise 3 to 4 percent in 2014.

USDA lowered its FY 2014 forecast for exports of livestock, poultry and dairy to $31.6 billion, down $100 million from its November estimate.