Chief U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) economist Keith Collins says that the hog market in the fourth quarter of this year will not experience another price plummet similar to 1998, when excessive supplies drove live animal prices to single digits, a 50-year low.

When 2 million hogs were slaughtered the last week of August, for the first time this year, hog prices dipped to around $20/cwt.

“Whenever we get up to killing two million head a week, that puts a lot of downward pressure on prices,” Collins says. “However, the department has not been expecting a collapse in hog prices the way we saw in 1998.”

Collins says USDA is forecasting hog prices in the fourth quarter of 2002 to average in the high $20 range.