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Challenges Persist for Hog Industry in 2024
Iowa Ag Connection - 01/25/2024

In the aftermath of a challenging 2023, hog producers may find slightly better conditions in 2024, but the industry continues to face economic headwinds, warns Iowa State University Extension economist Lee Schulz. Projected outcomes suggest the industry might undergo its least profitable two-year period.

While 2024 appears less dire than 2023, red ink still looms. Schulz questions national hog herd expansion, leaning towards possible contraction. The latest USDA Hogs and Pigs report shows minimal inventory increase but a 3.3% decline in the breeding herd—a concerning trend. Schulz suggests this reduction may offer market support, despite record pig numbers per litter sustaining overall production.

Jason Franken from Western Illinois University notes an unexpected decline in the breeding herd and a continued rise in pigs per litter, offsetting reductions in farrowing intentions. Market conditions currently discourage aggressive expansion as producers remain cautious after substantial 2023 losses and recent facility investments.

Schulz highlights the need for a pullback due to prolonged economic conditions influencing decisions made 10 to 18 months ago. Continued industry contraction is expected, signaled by reductions in farrowing intentions and high costs, particularly for labor and contract services, burdening producers.

Schulz sees potential for optimism through increased exports, potentially supporting industry expansion. The industry's ability to navigate challenges and capitalize on export opportunities will shape its trajectory in the coming months.


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