Iowa Pork Numbers Are Up While Farmers Are Down
From 1982 to 2017, the number of hog farms in Iowa fell 86 percent—but that doesn’t mean the number of hogs in Iowa went down with it. During this time, the number of hogs in Iowa tripled to 60.3 million hogs says the most recent Census of Agriculture.
Fewer owners handling the increasing number of hogs in the state means that owners have been specializing which then improves operation efficiency, says Iowa State University economist Chad Hart in an article in the Gazette.
This efficiency helps keep consumer costs low.
Looking to a study by Food and Water Watch, farmers' share in pounds per pork sold dropped two-thirds between 1982 and 2017 (adjusted for inflation). What this suggests is that the “factory farm” industry in Iowa is not benefiting farmers or rural communities.
Hart did not dispute these numbers; however, he did question some of the conclusions the study came to saying these operations were able to become more efficient with larger equipment and technology advancements.
Yeah, they are making less on a per-hog or a per-pound basis, but each farmer is making more on volume. The consumer has seen low prices be well maintained there.
What Happens With Prop 12?
Iowa is the number 1 pork producing state in the United States and recently, farmers have become frustrated that they may lose a market in the state that consumes 15 percent of all U.S. pork- California.
Back in 2018, California’s Proposition 12 was passed that changed the state's regulations for selling pork, eggs, and veal that were not bred in conditions that meet the state's requirements. This not only affects producers in California but producers all over the country, including Iowa.
If producers in Iowa do not change the layout of their farms and Prop 12 passes, California could be facing a pork shortage-- which would include bacon shortages.
Farmers in Iowa have mixed feelings about Prop 12. Some say the state shouldn’t be able to place financial burdens on producers in other states, while others say it's time for the industry to change.
If California loses just half of its pork supply, bacon prices in the state would jump 60 percent.
Farms For Sale In Eastern Iowa