USDA says it’ll take more than a year for pork/beef sector recovery

The USDA expects it will take more than a year for the pork and beef sectors to recover from the processing plant slowdowns caused by the pandemic.

The USDA dropped pork production by around 4% this year. Outlook board chairman Mark Jekanowski says they did boost hog price projections for this year by $3.00, up to $43.14 per hundredweight, but, “Even though that’s a relatively big increase from one month to the next these are still prices that are well below what they were in 2019.”

Pork output for 2021 is expected to top this year by 800-million pounds and hog prices could rise by about $362 per hundredweight over this year but that’s still not up to 2019 levels.

USDA lowered its beef production estimate by six-percent and dropped the price for steers, “Down to $104 per hundred weight. That’s down $7.00 per hundred weight from where we were last month.”

Jekanowski says things should improve next year as bottlenecks at slaughter plants get worked out but there’s a huge backlog of cattle waiting for slaughter, he says,

“It’s going to take a long time to work through all that backlog.”

USDA projects a seven percent rebound in beef production next year and steer prices to be 4% higher but still below 2021 expectations before COVID-19 hit.

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