The inventory of all hogs and pigs in the United States on Sept. 1 was 65.4 million head, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in the quarterly hogs and pigs report last week. This was down 2 percent from Sept. 1, 2013, but up 6 percent from June 1, 2014.

The Iowa inventory of all hogs and pigs on Sept. 1 was 20.7 million head, down from 20.9 million head on Sept. 1, 2013, the report said.

The U.S. breeding inventory, at 5.92 million head, was up 2 percent from last year. Iowa breeding inventory, at 1.03 million, was up from 1 million from last year.

The U.S. market hog inventory, at 59.4 million head, was down 3 percent from last year. Iowa market hog inventory, at 19.6 million, was down from 19.9 million one year ago, the report said.

The U.S. June-August 2014 pig crop, at 29.5 million head, was down 1 percent from 2013. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.91 million head, up 1 percent from 2013. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 50 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was 10.16 for the June-August period, compared to 10.33 last year.

Lower prices to stay

Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri predicts lower corn and soybean prices are here to stay.

FAPRI predicted larger corn and soybean crops will translate into lower projected 2014/15 prices for corn ($3.50 per bushel) and soybeans ($9.92 per bushel) in its recent report. Larger crops in 2014/15 also result in larger beginning stocks and total crop supplies in 2015/16. Corn and soybean prices for next year’s crop will likely be lower than predicted in August, FAPRI said.

Corn prices would average $3.80 per bushel in 2015/16, and soybean prices drop to $9.04 per bushel. From 2016 to 2018, FAPRI predicted prices would recover as markets adjust.

Corn prices could average $4.10 per bushel and soybeans could average $10.21 per bushel during those crop years.

EU beef competitors

U.S. beef exports to Europe were growing under a new duty-free quota established in 2009, but since then competition from other countries has added another obstacle, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Thad Lively, the group’s senior vice president for trade access, said inroads for Australia and Uruguay have dampened growth for U.S. beef in the European Union (EU) quota, which now welcomes product from Canada and New Zealand.

The total duty-free quota capacity is 48,200 metric tons per year. EU imports from the U.S. under this quota, helped by the removal of a previous 20 percent duty, reached 17,664 metric tons during the most recently concluded quota year (July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014).

The duty-free quota for beef produced from non-hormone-treated cattle was the result of the U.S.’s successful challenge of Europe’s beef hormone ban with the World Trade Organization.

"I think there are a lot of people in the industry who are struggling to understand why we’re sharing this quota with other countries, and they’re also very concerned that the growth we’ve seen in our exports of beef to Europe could come to an end if we don’t find a way to get things back to where they should be," Lively said.

Soybean price rebounds

China may import 76 million metric tons of soybeans in 2014-15, more than a U.S. government estimate of 74 million tons, Cargill Investments (China) Ltd.’s head of oilseed trading said last week. September purchases may reach 4.98 million tons from 6.03 million tons a month earlier, China’s commerce ministry said. Soybeans for November delivery last week dropped to its lowest price since July 2010, but soybean demand from China has stablized prices.

Brazil planting soybeans

Farmers in Brazil have started planting what may be their third consecutive record soybean crop, analysts said last week.

Parana, Brazil’s No. 2 soy growing state, in southern Brazil had planted 6 percent of its expected five million hectares (12 million acres) after abundant rainfall. Planting in top growing Mato Grosso state was less than 1 percent complete last week.

Analysts expect a soybean crop between 90 million and 98 million metric tons.

Meat production lower

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 3.8 billion pounds in August, down 10 percent from the 4.2 billion pounds produced in August 2013, the USDA said in a report last week.