Weather Forecast


U.S. hogs and pigs inventory at its lowest level since 2007

By Wes Nelson

Farm Service Agency

WILLMAR — According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest quarterly hogs and pigs report, as of March 1, there were 62.9 million hogs and pigs on U.S. farms, the lowest inventory since 2007. Of the total inventory, 57 million were market hogs and 5.85 million were slated for breeding.

Other key findings in the latest quarterly report include the following:

* From December 2013 through February 2014, there were 27.3 million pigs weaned on U.S. farms, down 3 percent from the same time period in 2013. The latest quarterly average litter rate was 9.53 pigs.

* Nationwide, producers intend to farrow 2.88 million sows from March through May 2014, and 2.96 million from June through August 2014.

* With 19.8 million head, Iowa hog producers had the largest inventory. North Carolina and Minnesota had the second- and third-largest inventories with 8 million and 7.8 million head respectively.

* While the national inventory of hogs and pigs decreased since March 2013, growers in South Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska increased their numbers.

* On March 1, there were 7.8 million hogs and pigs on Minnesota farms, down 3 percent from the previous quarter, but up 2 percent from one year ago.

* Between December 2013 through February 2014, Minnesota producers farrowed 290,000 sows, down 3 percent from the previous quarter. Minnesota’s latest quarterly average litter rate was 10.5 pigs, resulting in a quarterly pig crop of 3.05 million head.

To obtain an accurate assessment of the current status of the U.S. hogs and pigs inventory, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service surveyed nearly 7,800 operators across the nation during the first half of March. Interviewers collected data by mail, telephone and through face-to-face interviews.

USDA extends MILC program through Sept. 1

Officials from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency have announced that the Milk Income Loss Contract program was being extended through Sept. 1, or until the new Margin Protection Program established by the 2014 farm bill is operational.

Contracts for dairy farmers currently enrolled in the MILC program will be automatically extended. Producers with approved contracts will continue to receive monthly payments if a payment is earned.

Payments under the MILC program are calculated each month using the latest milk price and feed cost. According to those calculations, no payments will be earned for the months of October 2013 through January 2014. Payment rates for the remaining months of the extension period will be determined as the necessary price data become available.

The MILC program provides a monthly payment to our nation’s milk producers whenever the Boston Class I milk price falls below $16.94 per hundredweight. And whenever the price drops below that level, producers qualify for a payment rate equal to 45 percent of the price difference.

The 2014 farm bill also authorizes an upward adjustment of the $16.94 reference price whenever the monthly average cost for a 16 percent protein feed ration is greater than $7.35 per hundredweight.

Since payments are limited to a maximum of 2.985 million pounds each fiscal year, dairy operations may select any start month other than October 2013. Producers who want to select a different production start month must visit their local Farm Service Agency office by May 30.

Seven cases of equine herpesvirus confirmed in Minn.

Officials from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health recently announced 7 Minnesota confirmed cases of the equine herpesvirus non-neuropathogenic strain in horses.

This is not uncommon since the disease occurs in horses throughout the United States each year. However, what is unusual is to see multiple cases in horses that show neurological signs of the virus.

Equine herpesvirus is usually spread in nasal secretions between horses that are in close contact with each other, or that share water or feed pails. The virus does not typically survive very long in the environment, or on people or equipment.

The virus has no effect on people or other livestock and is killed readily by most disinfectants, ultraviolet light and by drying.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health encourages horse owners to consult with their veterinarians on ways to protect their animals.

PED virus now confirmed in 28 states

Since its discovery in the United States in May 2013, the porcine diarrhea virus has been confirmed in 28 states. As a result, some states have imposed PED-related import restrictions.

For a list of import requirements, hog producers should visit the American Association of Swine Veterinarians website at In addition, be sure to call the state of destination prior to shipping hogs out of state.

Hog producers are being encouraged to follow strict biosecurity standards set by industry experts to help control the spread of this deadly and highly contagious disease. For the latest in disease research and biosecurity tips, including helpful fact sheets regarding the PED virus, visit the National Pork Board’s website at

As the name implies, the PED virus causes severe diarrhea and occasional vomiting, resulting in severe dehydration that can, and often does, result in the death of little pigs.

Scientists have determined that fecal-oral transmission is the main, and perhaps only, mode of transmission. Contaminated personnel and equipment can also transmit and introduce PED into a susceptible herd.

Scientists have also confirmed that PED is not transmissible to humans and thus poses no danger to human health. In addition, there is no health risk in eating pork or pork products.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.