Large supplies and sluggish demand weigh on margins.  

After suffering historic economic losses in 2023, recovery will be slower than expected for hog farmers this year, livestock economist Steve Meyer said last week at the World Pork Expo at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.  

“I’m not exactly pessimistic, but I’m not as optimistic as I was a couple months ago,” said Meyer, lead economist for Ever.Ag. “Operations that two months ago were looking at this year and saying we can make up some of what we lost last year, I’m not so sure about that.”

Two months ago, cost-return models showed hog farmers could expect profits around $10 per head in 2024, but market conditions now suggest losses of $2.24 per head, Meyer said.

He said some combination of three factors — lower costs, higher demand and reduced supplies — is needed to restore...