February 4, 2015

After 63 years: US to produce more pork than beef



Pork production in the US is expected to surpass that of beef for the first time this year since 1952 as the country recovers from the deadly porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv), which first struck in 2013 and killed an estimated 8 million piglets across the country.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that pork output this year will increase 4.6% to a record 23.908 billion pounds while beef production will decline 1.7% to a 22-year low of 23.901 billion pounds as cattle ranchers are still struggling to recover from the 2012 drought. In comparison, chicken production, which overtook beef output about two decades ago, is expected to jump to an all-time high of 39.206 billion pounds.

The increase in pork production has been attributed to more sows being bred in farms and to increased slaughter weights of hogs as they had been fed more due to cheaper feed.

The USDA also said that the per-capita consumption of pork will reach the highest in five years. Many consumers had switched to pork because it was priced cheaper than beef.

"A year ago, it looked like the sky was going to fall," Ed Juhl, an Iowa farmer who lost some 2,400 pigs in June due to PEDv, was quoted as saying by business news agency Bloomberg. He said the industry's "confidence that we're going to increase pork supply is rapidly going up."

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