Report: Iowa's Hyper-Consolidated Hog Industry Drives Income Inequality


By Nancy Averett, Successful Farming - 5/6/2022


The increasing dominance of large factory farms in Iowa means hog farmers earn $2 less per pound of pork than they did 40 years ago, when the state had many more smaller farms, according to a new report by the nonprofit advocacy group Food & Water Watch.


“The price of hogs has gone down, and more and more is going to the middlemen, the processors, and the retailers,” said Amanda Starbuck, research director for the nonprofit and lead author of the report, The Economic Cost of Food Monopolies: The Hog Bosses.


Iowa lost nearly 90% of its hog farms from 1982 to 2017, as rapid factory farm expansion drove out smaller, family-scale farms, according to the report. In 1980, the nation’s top four pork processors slaughtered about one out of every three hogs in the U.S.; today they slaughter twice that much. In Iowa, the top pork-producing state, that number is even higher, with the top four firms slaughtering nine out of 10 hogs. That dominance allows the big processors to manipulate the market by, among other tactics, flooding auctions with their own hogs to drive down the price. This makes it extremely difficult for farmers to get a fair price for their hogs, the report states...


more, including link to The Economic Cost of Food Monopolies: The Hog Bosses