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Md., Del. hogs decline in numbers, despite national rise
By JONATHAN CRIBBS
(Jan. 6, 2015) Maryland and Delaware’s hog and pig inventory shrank from 2013 to 2014 while the nation’s total inventory grew by 2 percent, a USDA report said last month.
The total number of hogs and pigs in Maryland dropped 5 percent from 22,000 heads to 21,000, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s quarterly December report. In Delaware, its inventory fell 33 percent from 6,000 head to 4,000 heads. Virginia’s grew about 4 percent from 260,000 to 270,000.
The numbers are “just all crazily skewered because last year was so bad,” said Jennifer Debnam, president of the Maryland Pork Producers Association and a Kennedyville farmer.
The national pork industry was devastated last year by porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, or PEDv, which killed more than 7 million piglets nationwide and drove pork prices to record levels.
After peaking at about 68 million head at the end of 2011, the nation’s total inventory tumbled to less than 62 million by mid-2013.
“Some of the farms with the best biosecurity still got the virus,” Debnam said. “That’s a little bit scary. You were waiting for the day you came in and had piglets with diarrhea.”
Maryland’s pork industry is very small and limited and shrinking due to the state’s regulatory environment and other factors. But that might have contributed to keeping PEDv away from its hogs and pigs, Debnam said.
“There’s very few people producing,” she said.
A continued nationwide recovery is projected. Hog producers intend to have 2.87 million sows farrow during the December-February 2015 quarter, a 4 percent increase from the same period last year, the report said. At 2.9 million sows, projected farrowing in the following quarter is also expected to increase about 3 percent from last year.