WASHINGTON – Throughout the 2011/12 crop year, tight feed supplies are expected to put upward pressure on feed prices, according to the June 15 Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook from the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. Producers may see their profitability slip because of high corn and soybean meal prices.

Experts predict these high costs likely will encourage producers to remain as current as possible in marketing their animals to limit the time on feed. As a result, forecast average hog weights for 2011 and 2012 were reduced from May.

The forecast for pork production was reduced slightly for both 2011 and 2012, given the reduction in hog weights. Commercial pork production estimates for 2011 were reduced by 10 million lbs. from May to 22.615 billion lbs., and the forecast for 2012 was lowered by 40 million lbs. to 22.91 billion lbs.

US pork exports in April totaled more than 421 million lbs., up about 19.5 percent from April 2010. Second-quarter pork exports are forecast to total almost 1.27 billion lbs., up about 17 percent from the same period a year ago. Annual US pork exports for 2011 were revised upward from May forecasts to 4.872 billion lbs., about 15.3 percent higher than a year ago and are expected to account for 21.5 percent of US commercial pork production.

Larger-than-expected pork exports are due mostly to the continued low US dollar exchange value vis-à-vis the rest of the world, coupled with foot-and-mouth disease issues in South Korea and a lack of Asian production capacity to meet demand. The five largest destinations of US pork exports year to date continue to be Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Canada and China. The year-over-year pork export growth in April was due mainly to increases in sales to South Korea, China and Russia.

US imports of pork in April totaled more than 68 million lbs., up 5.8 percent from a year ago. Second -quarter imports are expected to be 220 million lbs. Year-over-year, April imports from Canada, Denmark and Italy were higher, while imports from Poland and Mexico were lower. Canada accounted for 76.5 percent of US imports versus 78.7 percent in April 2010.

In April, live swine imports were 437,000 head, down 12.5 percent from last year. Annual live hog imports to the US were revised down slightly to 5,842,000 head. Live swine exports totaled 1,846 head for April, 112 percent higher than a year ago.