Exports for 2012, forecast at 2.77 billion pounds, will be down slightly from the record 2.79 billion pounds exported last year. That was a 21 percent increase. Improving global economies and a weak U.S. dollar spurred export. Tighter U.S. beef supplies will increase competition between U.S. and foreign consumers, Shagam said.

Imports, forecast at 2.09 billion pounds, are up about 2 percent from last year when they fell by about 11 percent. “Although U.S. demand for imported beef likely will be supported by lower U.S. cow slaughter in 2012, imports of processing-grade beef may be constrained by continued strong global demand and the relative weakness in the value of the U.S. dollar.”

Shagam said hog prices likely will be off from 2011’s record $66.11 per hundredweight. “Despite continued strong exports, increased production will pressure prices.” He said lower forecast beef and broiler production “may provide price support if consumers view pork as price competitive.”

Slaughter lamb prices are expected to fall from last year’s record $160.60 per hundredweight to $138 to $150 per hundredweight.

Broiler prices should increase, averaging from 82 cents to 87 cents per pound compared to 79 cents in 2011. “Tighter supplies of both broiler meat and beef are expected to support broiler prices through much of the year,” Shagam said.

The turkey hen price is forecast to average $1 to $1.07 per pound, compared to $1.02 last year.

New York wholesale eggs are forecast at $1.03 to $1.09 per dozen; that’s down from $1.15 last year.