Steve Meyer

Paragon Economics Inc.

Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics, founded in 2002 to provide expert economic analysis of agricultural markets and business decisions. He brings a wealth of experience in the livestock industry, having served as director of economics for the National Pork Producers Council (1993-2001), and held the same position for the National Pork Board from 2001 to October 2002. In that capacity, Steve provided economic counsel to producers and Pork Board staff and coordinated staff and consultants’ activities regarding meat industry production, price forecasts and the economic impact of pork production and processing. In addition, he administered NPPC programs dealing with marketing and pricing systems, structure, pork industry coordination and competitiveness. Previously, Steve served as a swine business specialist with Moorman Manufacturing Co., a sales representative with Dow Chemical and sales manager for an animal health and agricultural chemical distributor. In addition, he spent three years as an assistant professor in the agriculture economics department at the University of Missouri.

Russia Embargo No Surprise; But What Does it Mean?
Russia's embargo of ag imports will have an impact, but not a significant one.
Pork Producer Profits Have Never Been Better

USDA’s monthly World Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) Report, released on Friday, contained little new information about this year’s crop, but did hold a couple of surprises regarding 2013-14 usage that will impact corn and soybean prices in the coming year.

For Export News the Key is Value
While demand remains strong it's important to look at what buyers are willing to pay.
Market Responds to Bullish Hogs and Pigs Report
The United States Department of Agriculture’s June Hogs and Pigs report was bullish, and that bullishness was clearly reflected in the futures trade.
Pork Demand is on a Roll

It’s not supply. Or at least not completely supply. That would be an apt description of the pork and hog markets of the past two months--and it is not meant to let supply completely off the hook. However, the amount of pork available to consumers is not the only reason we have seen such remarkable prices in 2014.

Hog Slaughter Numbers Lowest Since July 2012; Weights Filling Gap
Last week’s federally inspected slaughter run of 1.750 million head was 6.6% lower than last year and is the lowest weekly total since the week of July 4, 2012. The year-on-year decline is a little more shocking in unit terms: 114,500 head. FI slaughter has averaged, over the past 4 weeks, 4.2% lower then one year ago. My computations for May based on porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) case accession data said May slaughter would be down 2.8%, so the decline for May has been even larger than I expected. That does not bode well for supplies later this summer when the accession data suggest that slaughter will decline by over 10% versus 2013.
Fewer Pigs Force Packers to Cut Shifts

Last week’s federally inspected (FI) slaughter total of 1.973 million head was 4.8% lower than one year ago. This level was slightly lower than was suggested by USDA’s March Hogs and Pigs Report, and slightly higher than my forecast based on that report and porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) case accession data.

Hog Slaughter was Up Last Week and a Good Year for Pork Demand

Something unusual happened last week: U.S. hog processing plants harvested more pigs than they did one year ago. In fact, that is the first time such a statement could be made since the week of Aug. 16. And, as can be seen in Figure 1, last week’s slaughter run was still below the level suggested by the September Hogs and Pigs Report estimate for the inventory of pigs weighing 50 to 119 lb. back on Sept. 1. Since Sept.1, federally inspected slaughter has been 4.1% smaller than last year, and 2.8% smaller than the level I had forecast based on USDA’s Sept. 1 inventories.

Are We Frittering Away Profit Possibilities to Keep Facilities Filled?

Are we behaving like a bunch of cattle feeders, frittering away all possibility of profit to keep facilities filled? I don’t think so. My production costs model based on Iowa State University’s (ISU) historic costs and returns series says that, at current corn and soybean meal prices, May market hogs should cost about $156 to produce.

It’s Time to Pay for Pork Quality

That shuffling sound you hear is me dragging out my soapbox once again. I’ve now positioned it squarely in front of you and will proceed with this week’s edition of a rant you have read before. Don’t worry. I’m right there behind your computer monitor or whatever electronic gizmo you are holding in your hand.

Big Producers Make up Pig Losses with Heavier Weights

We have gotten a bit closer to expected levels in recent weeks, and last week’s 0.45 pound reduction in the average weight of producer-sold barrows and gilts suggests that producers are getting a bit more current in their marketings now that cash prices have fallen.

WASDE Report Brings Good News for Pork Producers

Was Friday’s World Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report from USDA the nail in the coffin for high grain and feed prices? I guess not if you consider $4/bushel still high for corn or $400/ton still high for bean meal. I would have to agree on the latter of those two but $4/bushel is so far below the past few years’ predominant prices that I have to say that one is a short-term win for sure. The longer term isn’t certain at all but the trend is definitely good.

PEDV May Thwart Pork’s Chance to Grab Beef Market Share

A victim of the ongoing porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus situation may well be the passing of a golden strategic opportunity for the pork industry to gain market share from beef. These kinds of opportunities do not come often. I can’t say the opportunity will be squandered because its loss will have nothing to do with poor, misguided or incompetent efforts. It may just happen. And that is frustrating and sad.

PEDV Outbreaks Are Not Linked to Low Slaughter Levels

Two issues are dominating the news in the pork industry this week: the spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus and the low levels of hog slaughter since Sept. 1.

Market Observations Post-USDA Return

USDA is back up and running but, as can be seen from today’s North American Pork Industry and Competing Meats tables, it will be another week before we have the normal complement of supply and price data. Further, we may not get data for the two missing weeks at all. USDA has not been too clear on those items yet but should provide more details this week.

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