Plague and Pestilence: The 2019-2020 US Hog Industry in Near Retrospect

Authors: Dawn Drake*, Missouri Western State University
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Rural Geography, Economic Geography
Keywords: livestock, agricultural geography, economic geography
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 4
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Being a hog farmer was never an easy lifestyle. In the 20th century, a variety of market factors and influences only increased pressures, pushing smaller farmers to the margins and creating an industry largely dominated by corporate mega-farms and contract operations. Risk for hog farmers steadily increased and many found themselves existing on the edge of financial ruin for the hope of profit. All of those stressors came to a head in the years 2019 and 2020 as outside factors weighed heavily on the hog industry, not just for smaller producers, but also for the mega-farms. First came the plague of a prolonged trade war with China that reduced foreign market access and exports for hog farmers. Then, just as that disaster seemed poised to abate, pestilence struck the globe in the form of COVID-19, having impacts not only of the markets for pork and hogs globally, but on the cost of doing business for hog farmers. The chapter will explore these two prongs of added market downturn and uncertainty using nearly real-time state level data from the USDA.

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