Exports Exceed Imports Five Times In March

   U.S. pork exports totaled 453.1 million pounds during March. That was 2.9 percent more than a year ago. Foreign demand for U.S. pork was up in 2.3 percent January, 3.4 percent in February, and 7.9 percent in March after being down 11.8 percent in 2015. March pork imports equaled 100.2 million pounds, down 1.4 percent from a year ago. Year-over-year pork imports from Canada were down, but imports from Europe were up. Exports equaled 21.1 percent of March pork production while imports equaled 4.7 percent of production.
   During the first quarter, pork exports to China and Hong Kong were up 93 million pounds compared to January-March 2015. Shipments to Japan were up 36 million pounds and to Australia up 10 million pounds. Exports to South Korea and Mexico were down.
   Live hog imports totaled 526,924 head during March. That was up 19.9 percent from a year ago and up 11.6 percent from the month before.
   The U.S. economy added 160,000 jobs during April, the fewest for any month since September. The Labor Department revised down February and March job growth by 19,000 jobs. The GDP grew only 0.5 percent in the first quarter, so the year is off to a disappointing start which is not good news for domestic meat demand.
   Corn planting is ahead of normal. USDA’s weekly Crop Progress report says that 45 percent of corn acres were planted by May 1. That compares to 30 percent a week earlier and 45 percent on that date last year. The five-year average is 30 percent planted by May 1.
   Cash hog prices were higher this week, but the cutout value was lower. Friday morning’s pork cutout value was $78.73/cwt FOB the plants. That is down $3.04 from the week before and down 32 cents from a year ago. This morning’s pork belly prices were an amazing 19.4 percent lower than a week ago. This morning's national negotiated hog price was 88.7 percent of the cutout value.
   The national negotiated barrow and gilt carcass price averaged $70.99/cwt on Thursday, up $2.57 from a week earlier, but down $6.52 from a year ago. The national negotiated barrow and gilt price averaged $69.87/cwt on the morning report today, up 64 cents from a week earlier. There were no negotiated price quotes this morning for the eastern corn belt, western corn belt or Iowa-Minnesota.
   The top hog price today at Peoria was $45/cwt, up $3 from last Friday. The top price for interior Missouri live hogs was $48.75/cwt, up $2 from a week ago.
   This week’s hog slaughter was 2.214 million head, up 3.5 percent from last week and up 4.9 percent from the same week last year.
   The average slaughter weight of barrows and gilts in Iowa-Minnesota last week was 284.3 pounds, up 0.3 pound from the week before and up 2.3 pound from a year ago.
   The May hog futures contract lost $1.10 this week to close at $76.80/cwt. The June lean hog futures contract ended the week at $81.275/cwt, down 42.5 cents from the preceding Friday. Today, July hogs settled at $82.25/cwt.
   The May corn futures contract settled at $3.76 per bushel today, down 14.25 cents from last week. July corn ended the week at $3.775/bu., also down 14.25 cents from last Friday. ∆
   DR. RON PLAIN AND DR. SCOTT BROWN: Agricultural Economists, University of Missouri
MidAmerica Farm Publications, Inc
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