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Senior Contributor

How many hog farmers?

I knew that we had lost a lot of hog farms over the years, but this stat just blew me away.  

 

In 1980, there were over 666,000 hog farms. But, according to the last USDA Hogs and Pigs Report [USDA NASS Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report - September 2010] that number has declined by approximately 90% to fewer than 67,000, the Center for Rural Affairs points out, this week, in a press release. 

 

I guess it really is mind-boggling when you see the numbers on paper. Or, in this case on the screen.

 

Mike

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10 Replies
Quark
Senior Reader

Re: How many hog farmers?

If you were to only count hog farmers that actually own their own livestock, and only count those farmers that have more than a couple of pigs, those who have an operation that is not hobby but actually has the potential to contribute to annual income I'm guessing the number would be far less then 67,000. We've gone from around 50 to 1 in my county. This is typical for the whole state.

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Senior Contributor

Re: How many hog farmers?

Quark, Good to hear from you. I have friends that have gotten out of the business, as well.

 

Just this morning, Smithfield says they see little hog herd buildup in 2011. Of course, they also say the costs to raise a hog is going into the mid-$50's in 2011. And, they reported record earnings.

 

Mike

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Veteran Advisor

Re: How many hog farmers?

I was just thinking that same thing. Out of the 67K how many are 4H projects and people who keep a sow or two in order to raise up a few butcher hogs for themselves, family and neighbors? I just dropped one off yesterday morning and the gal at the locker said that they aren't killing and processing nearly as many hogs as just a couple of years ago because people don't have anywhere to get them and that their experience with buying hogs out of big units wasn't getting them any better product than the ordinary mush that you can get at the grocery store and then at least you don't have to take the whole pig, just the cuts you want. Said cattle and the annual deer hunting run were keeping them going.  She said they do get to process some "giveaway hogs"...ruptures and broken legs and prolapsed and such  that some of the units push out the door, but most of them have gone to euthanasia rather than killing time sorting off a pig or two for somebody.

 

Those areas in the non-prime corn producing areas of many states that used to have large numbers of small to medium sozed sow herds that sold feeder pigs to owner operator corn grower feeders in adjacent areas, such as central MN and So. Missouri-No. Arkansas don't have those any more. Heck,I remeber going up top Little Falls Mn and buying pigs out of teh back fo somebody's station wagon.That was a significant bunch of individual operations. I asked somebody not so long ago if there are still those big pasture farrowing operations on the rough land in Michigan and he told me not near so many as not so very long ago and that even some of those that remain have become part of integrated systems.

 

Most of the local County pork producers organizations up this way don't have any members on their boards of directors who own any pigs. Custom feeders and integrator employees dominate those boards. A pig owning family or two, here or there, is represented now and then but it's the rare exception.

 

He's right...the numbers are stark. And not to mention the biggest effect of it of all...the fact that those 600,000 producers generally purchased inputs and services in all of the small communities that are drying up, full of retirees living 1 and 2 in a big house who used to work for those businesses...vet clinics, feed mills, livestock equipment dealers, closed church and school janitors etc.  Now an integrator will sell out the local guy over a quarter of a cent/per gallon on LP to the co-op 3 counties away.

 

I guess it's just different. And it's not just hogs. Dairy is imploding in my state. And that's been the one enterprise that has kept some money circulating in local communities. Not sure our state and federal policy folks have got a real grasp on what this becomes down the road. Lots and lots of townships and  counties out in flyover land facing the very real prospect of becoming the "rural ghettos" that some of the more observant futurists talked about a couple of decades ago.

 

And I guess we can be thankful that the shriveled up manufacturing base in the U.S. hasn't dropped productive individuals and families, although they have considerably, at the rate that produciton ag has. That wouldn't be  pretty picture at all.

 

It's all progress.

 

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460D
Friend

Re: How many hog farmers?

  There are almost no hogs raised with in 50 miles of me. Myself and 2 others [ neighbors ] are all that is left. And we have to have a full time job other than hogs just to keep the few sows that we have. With corn the way it is this year I fear that i will have to cut my sows in half just to be able to feed what is left. I only have 10 sows now. although I have 4 guilts coming along. I only have a parsture opperation, but I do love it.

 

 David

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Senior Contributor

Re: How many hog farmers?

I've been told that if you aren't big in what you do (crops, hogs, cattle, dairy, etc.), then you aren't a farmer. Which is worse, the disparity between the commodity prices and retail prices, or between the top 10% and bottom 10% of income in this country?

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Re: How many hog farmers?

The phenomenom is international.

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Veteran Advisor

Re: How many hog farmers?

Just a philosophical question, before somebody jumps on me.

 

If the corporate tax rate was at 50% and top individual at 70% as they were back before 1980, what would be the impact on these trends?

 

In addition you'd have to also include a sharply progressive structure i.e., much lower rates on lower income levels.

 

I am aware that there were serious costs to that system, merely pondering the various policy choices that may have contributed to this state of things.

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Quark
Senior Reader

Re: How many hog farmers?

Seaboard is trying to get permits to build 120 finishers in western Kansas. They stick them on the pivot irrigation corners that  don't get water. Shortsighted communities and irrigators are the target.  Who pays for and cleans up the sight when the production unit is used up. You can bet it isn't Seaboard, and those costs are much higher then anyone wants to think about. So, 20 years from now you are facing environmental junk buildings or high elimantion costs.  It also, ups the % of vertical integation, to further turn the screws on the few independents left.

 

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Veteran Advisor

Re: How many hog farmers?

My guess would be that those locations are the early stage of a long term total vertical integration plan.  Deep pocketed or well connected, (the two usually go together) primary investors know that in any serious declining situation, cyclical or crisis, that there will come a time when those crop production acres and accompanying water appropriations will become available. For now I'd suspect that they have the people who control those acres hypnotized over the prospects of the manure.

 

From a practical standpoint, if we are going to continue to have alot of those it's not a bad place...proximity to a guaranteed corn crop, no people to speak of around to be annoyed by them and a deep water table.

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