Looking to 2013, the expectation is for production to be down for beef, pork, and broilers, something that’s happened only once since the 1980s, the recession year of 2009. “It looks like 2013 will have at least modest production declines in all our major meats,” Anderson says.

“There looks to be about a 4 percent to 4.5 percent year-over-year decline in beef production, which is a big number. And it could be a bit more than that.

“I think we could see 1.5 percent decline in pork production and about 1.25 percent decline in broiler production.

“On a quarter-to-quarter basis, for beef it’s pretty much going to be a steady drop through the year, according to USDA projections. Pork production has held up pretty well through the fourth quarter of this year, but I think we’ll see a fairly modest decline in 2013, with the biggest drop later in the year.”

For broilers, Anderson says, “I’m expecting just the opposite. By the fourth quarter, we may see some expansion again. This sector can turn a lot faster than beef or pork. There may be some declines in the first part of 2013, and maybe some increase in the latter part of the year — on net, poultry could be down about 1 percent for the year.

“That will really hinge on what happens with feed prices. If we get a big corn crop off an estimated 96 to 97 million planted acres, I think the broiler sector will begin trying to grow market share and start to expand. If drought persists and we have another disappointing corn year, they’ll try to hold steady and not expand.”