News 341 views last update:Oct 20, 2008

US: Canadian hog import levels declining

Canadian swine imports have been declining on a year-to-year basis since late April, and the fourth-quarter projections likely will be well below the same period last year, writes Curt Thacker.

In 2007, hogs born in Canada and shipped south accounted for about 9.3% of US slaughter. The total numbers and percentage of US slaughter represented by imported hogs are expected to be down this year from the record highs set last year.

Import reports
According to the US Department of Agriculture's livestock import reports, the weekly average for hogs and pigs shipped to the US from Canada during the first half of the year was slightly under 200,000 head. In the 14 weeks since, the average has declined to about 157,300 head.

In early autumn last year, domestic supplies of slaughter-ready hogs, as well as hog and pig imports from Canada, were rising sharply. The increases in production from both countries were due in large part to the broadened availability and widespread use of vaccines for porcine circovirus-associated disease by early summer 2007.

Feeder pigs have made up about 73% of the hogs imported from Canada so far in 2008, so the full effect of the decline wouldn't be felt in the marketplace for about five months - when those pigs would reach slaughter weight.

Culling programme
Other analysts said a sow buyout programme initiated by the Canadian government earlier this year has reduced the size of the breeding herd, which has contributed to the decline in the number of pigs moving into the US. Imports also dropped in recent weeks in advance of the implementation of the mandatory Country of Origin Labelling legislation.

Source: Dow Jones Newswires

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