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The Smell of Money? Profitability drives Iowa's pork boom

by 5m Editor
15 January 2007, at 11:09am

MASON CITY, IA - Rapid growth of Iowa’s pork industry and the resulting “smell of money“ for those downwind is fanned by 34 consecutive months of better-than-average profits.

Craig Benjegerdes of rural Manly says escalating production costs could create a "tough and ugly" situation next summer and fall for some Iowa pork producers.

The quick increase has raised concerns about health and environmental effects, and has prompted arguments about regulation of the industry.

Last year’s increase in corn prices could temper the growth, but concerns about impacts of hog farming in the nation’s leading pork-producing state will remain strong.

State lawmakers, having heard much about the issue in recent campaigns, may consider regulatory changes during the legislative session that began last week.

From 2002 to 2004, an average of 78 permits a year for animal feeding operations were issued in Iowa. The largest percentage was hog confinements. In 2005, the total was 203; and last year, 318, more than eight times the number in 2000 — 38.

The reason for the increase in pork production is profitability.

John D. Lawrence, agriculture economist for Iowa State University, said a 10-year profit average per hog is $3.52, and the last 34 to 35 months have been above that.

While some farmers choose to raise hogs in open lots, the vast majority use confinement operations.

Source: Mason City Globe Gazette

5m Editor