Economic fallacies of industrial hog production

By John Ikerd, Agricultural Economist, University of Missouri.

Fallacy: Consumers' demands are driving the trend toward large-scale corporate hog production.
Fact: Corporate profits are the motivation for industrial hog production. Corporate hog producers are concerned about consumers only as a market for their products - profits come before preferences of consumers.

Fallacy: Contract hog production is the only means by which family hog farmers can gain the access to the capital, management, technology, and markets they will need to survive.
Fact: Family hog farmers can survive and prosper by taking advantage of their unique assets - their willingness to work, their commitment to farming, and their skills in animal husbandry and business management.

Fallacy: Rural communities in agricultural areas will benefit from large-scale
corporate hog operations.
Fact: Rural people must learn to rely on their own resources - their land, local
investment, and local people - to sustain their communities over the long run.

Fallacy: Large-scale corporate hog operations will benefit society in general.
Fact: Corporate greed is not magically transformed into societal good, no matter
what economists might lead us to believe.

Presented at Sustainable Hog Farming Summit, sponsored by Water Keepers Alliance, White Plains, NY, held at New Bern, NC, January 11, 2001.

The full presentation can be found at Thanks to Hogwatch Manitoba for this summary.

About John Ikerd: John is emeritus professor of agricultural economics at the University of Missouri, where he was active from 1988 to his retirement in 2000. He coordinated the state’s Extension programs in sustainable agriculture. He championed on-farm research and critical evaluation of the impacts of farming systems on farm families and rural communities. Dr. Ikerd has spoken passionately and often to many groups since his retirement to improve understanding of, and support for, a “new agriculture” that brings life socially, economically and spiritually to rural North America.