If U.S. pork production grows in 2005, it could challenge packer capacity, even though that capacity is expected to grow, according to a new study funded by the pork checkoff.

The study shows current capacity is 407,875 head/day for federally in-spected plants.

“I think we're okay on capacity for this fall, even though we're going to have some days when we challenge that,” reports Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics and a consultant to the National Pork Board.

University of Missouri agricultural economist Ron Plain says he is concerned about large pork production growth predicted for late 2005. Recent USDA data indicates the breeding herd on Sept. 1 was up 1%, compared to a year ago, and producers planned to boost farrowings by 1%.

Slaughter capacity may be larger by next fall with the scheduled opening of a new producer-owned plant in St. Joseph, MO. The plant will slaughter about 8,000 hogs/day.