WASHINGTON — Continuing in the moderate downward trend of recent years, U.S. flour production in 2009 was down 0.3% from 2008. The year’s output totaled 414,996,000 cwts, still the fourth largest on record, but down from 416,283,000 in 2008. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau on Monday issued these numbers based on preliminary data for the four quarters of the year. The 2009 aggregate was down 1.5% from the record 421,270,000 in 2000. It also fell short by 0.9% from the recent high of 418,836,000 in 2007. The 24-hour capacity of the nation’s mills showed little change in 2009, ending at 1,532,000 cwts, against 1,531,000 a year back. Average rate of grind was 88.2%, up from 87.6% in 2008. In 2009, mills ground 896,046,000 bus of wheat, down 1.3% from 907,979,000 a year back. Millfeed production came in at 6,470,018 tons, down 4.2% from 6,752,816 in 2008. The extraction rate was a record (with the possible exception of a brief period after World War II) 77.2%, up from 76.4% in 2008. Semolina production in 2009 amounted to 31,496,000 cwts, up 1.9% from 30,911,000 in 2008. Regional data showed some gains for spring wheat area mills, a slight increase for the East and a small loss for Central states. Data for other areas were less conclusive.