Increased export demand for U.S. pork is raising pork profitability and leading to an overall rise in the national hog inventory according to a December report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and Economic Research Service.

The National Corn Growers Association welcomes this growth, which translates into stronger demand for corn and distillers dried grains.

“Corn farmers value our relationship with the hog industry, which consistently provides an important market for our product,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer.

“In 2011-12 marketing year, it is estimated that hogs will consume 960 million bushels of corn. As demand grows for pork both internationally and domestically, corn farmers benefit also thus reinforcing the importance of cooperation among all sectors in the agricultural community.”

USDA Economic Research Service projects a significant increase in pork exports during the fourth quarter of 2011, with 1.4 billion pounds of pork exported during this period. This 22 percent increase over fourth quarter exports in 2010, if realized, would set total 2011 U.S. pork exports at more than 5.1 billion pounds.

Further agency estimates indicate these levels will hold in 2012.

In addition to strong demand for U.S. pork abroad, domestic demand could also see a slight increase in 2012. Service estimates foresee this demand increase as the market balances against projected reductions in beef and poultry production.

The rise in demand has already increased production, which should be sustained in the coming year. NASS reports indicated that, as of Dec. 1, the total U.S. hog inventory stood at 65.9 million head, two percent higher than at that time last year with the breeding herd expanding at the same rate during that period.

While the rate of sows farrowing fell by one percent from Sept. 1, an increase in the number of viable pigs produced per litter hit a record high of 10.02 offsetting the drop in sows.

The overall increases in pork production, export and in domestic demand have not only resulted in a rise in demand for corn, but also in demand for distillers dried grains, an ethanol co-product.

Hog sector interest in and demand for DDGs increased steadily over the past few years to take advantage of the quality protein option that it offers at a low cost.

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