DANVILLE, Ind. — The million-dollar question that many livestock producers want the answer to is: How market prices will fare in the future.

Steve Meyer, the founder and president of Paragon Economics, said in a recent interview that producers can expect to see some changes in pork figures next quarter as a result of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, which hit first in June and July.

Due to this, he noted, that there will be a reduction in slaughter numbers from where they would have been had the animals not been sick.

The first and second quarters of the new year probably will be down between 2 percent and 4 percent in slaughter production, Meyer said.

The good news for pork producers is that hog prices will be positive.

“Reduce supplies, prices go up,” Meyer said, adding that producers whose hogs were infected with PEDV most likely lost three to four weeks of production.

Another thing that will help producers in the coming year is that the cost to produce a pig will be $35 lower per head. Meyer explained that this can be attributed to a good corn and soybean crop.

“It was the fourth-largest soybean crop ever,” he said, adding that a bigger crop helps drive down the average cost of feed.

Although Meyer doesn’t believe a lot of new individuals will start raising pork, he does believe that pork producers who have been waiting to expand, but hadn’t because they were waiting for better market prices, finally will expand their sow herds.