It was great seeing so many readers of this blog at World Pork Expo last week. Many of you stopped me to comment on my last posting about taking time for a vacation. As you know, I did that prior to Expo and had a great time away from my desk.
The most common comments I heard at Expo had to do with my guess on the amount of sow herd expansion, the status of the new slaughter plants and how much long will I keep writing/working.
The easy questions first – status of expansion. Sow herd expansion is still occurring. I personally know of several large units in the planning stages for construction next year, several planned to begin this fall and of course those already under construction or being populated right now. Once a producer begins going down the path of getting a permit for a new unit, it takes quite a bit to discourage them after all that effort. This is the case this year. It takes almost 2 years of planning, etc. for a new sow unit so I expect construction to continue for several years. Some of the new units will replace older units but I think long term it spells more production in the US.
What about slaughter plants? It looks like both Sioux City and Coldwater will begin slaughter around Labor Day. If this happens they won’t be ramped up to full capacity until sometime in October. In the meantime, we have a lot of pigs on the ground for this fall. Weights have been running quite a bit under last year. Will producers pull pigs ahead again this year to avoid a slaughter capacity crunch in the fall?
How long will I keep writing/working? I don’t know the answer to this, but I turned 68 just before Expo so my days are becoming numbered. I am slowly allowing myself to take more time away from work. As readers know I lost my wife to cancer 2 years ago. I threw myself into work with all of you in the industry (which I enjoy greatly) to partially fill the hole her loss left. Recently I’ve met someone who is making me think hard about maybe doing a little less with the industry and doing more ‘other’ things with her and my grandkids. Thus, sometime this summer I’ll end my blog, after 9 years of writing almost weekly.