Meat Production will Decline in 2009

Soaring feed prices was catalyst for change.

In 2009 total meat production - beef, pork, broilers - is expected to be down about 1.1 % according to World Agricultural Outlook Board Chairman Gerry Bange. While it's unusual, Bange says it's understandable when you look at the high cost of feed and energy this year that caused farmers to cut back on herds and breeding stock.

"We're seeing tighter calf supplies," Bange says. "Calf supplies have been somewhat restricted due to drought conditions in various parts of the country. In the case of hogs we're seeing the higher feed prices and the cutbacks in hog production."

Broilers are also having tough times with high feed prices and excess demand, and all three areas face another challenge.

"Some signs of weaker demand, which may in fact relate to the economic situation," Bange says. "People are adjusting their expenditures."

Put it all together and that means lower meat production as well as lower prices for hogs, cattle and broilers next year.

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