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This little piggy went to market : will the new pork industry call the Heartland home?


  • Mark Drabenstott


Throughout the 1990s, the pork industry has been at the forefront of a revolution in the structure of the U.S. food and agricultural sector. In particular, the pork industry has been rapidly moving away from its traditional structure built on hundreds of thousands of small farms selling hogs at local terminal markets to a much more concentrated "supply chain" model. Contracting is one prominent feature of supply chains, and the share of pork production grown under contract or vertical integration has jumped from a few percent in the early 1980s to around a third today. Most analysts agree that the structure of the U.S. pork industry will soon resemble that of the U.S. poultry industry, which moved to a supply chain structure more than three decades ago. In short, the hog industry, once a quintessential "family farm" enterprise, has gone to market---a very big market.> As the pork industry's structure has changed, so has its geography. Raising hogs was once heavily concentrated in the Corn Belt, since corn is the primary feed for hogs. The shift to supply chains, however, has taken the pork industry to many new places. North Carolina and Virginia became major pork states in the 1980s. More recently, the industry has moved aggressively into states in the Great Plains that used to be cattle country, Oklahoma being a good case in point. Pork production there has leaped nearly 900 percent since 1990. Where the pork industry locates in the future carries big economic implications.> Drabenstott examines the changes taking place in the U.S. pork industry. He concludes that the recent geographic shift in the industry could foreshadow still more shifts in the future, possibly including moves to Canada, Mexico, or South America.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Drabenstott, 1998. "This little piggy went to market : will the new pork industry call the Heartland home?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q III, pages 79-97.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:1998:i:qiii:p:79-97:n:v.83no.3

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    Cited by:

    1. Adhikari, Bishwa B. & Harsh, Stephen B. & Schwab, Gerald, 2004. "Regional Competitive Position Of Pork Industry," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 20057, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    2. Leuck, Dale J. & Zering, Kelly D., 2003. "Manure Handling Costs And The Competitiveness Of Pork Production," 2003 Annual Meeting, February 1-5, 2003, Mobile, Alabama 35061, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.


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