Late 2013 farrowings could end up a bit higher still. Bear in mind most of the recent cash hog price surge occurred in June after USDA collected the data for Friday's report.
PEDV is a sizable market wild card. In May porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, a foreign animal disease, turned up in U.S. swine herds. It mainly affects very young pigs with high mortality rates reported in many cases, could be a wild card for supplies later in the year. More than 200 positive cases surfaced in the U.S. in May and June.
PEDV is not a reportable disease as it does not affect international meat trade, so producers are not required to report cases or the number of animals that die from it to government officials.
PEDV is widespread in many countries of Europe and Asia. It doesn't affect people, and isn't a food-safety concern, according to the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.
PEDV appears to have had little market impact so far. But that could yet change.
March-May farrowings resulted in a record-high pigs weaned per litter of 10.31. Producers are clearly getting better. But it remains to be seen if PEDV has any impact on pigs saved.
Last week Mexico announced it is prohibiting imports of live pigs from the U.S. due to PEDV. No trade disruption is good news. Fortunately, Mexico's move likely will not cause a major disruption here.
The ban involves live animals, not muscle cuts or pork variety meats, since the disease is not transferred through meat and poses no human health risk.
Last year's live hog exports to Mexico ran about 27,000 head. That's down from more than 120,000 per year in 2002 through 2007. Those 27,000 animals are a mere fraction of a typical 400,000 daily U.S. hog slaughter.
Still, the U.S. industry dodged a bullet. Other foreign animal diseases, foot and mouth and hog cholera to name just two, exist. Outbreaks of such diseases could turn off exports overnight.
Everyone in the U.S. industry must maintain diligence to keep such diseases out.