A Look at the Employment in the United States Swine Production Industry

Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 2006. A survey of pig producers and employees was conducted to document trends in the industry. These surveys have been conducted four times: 1990, 1995, 2000, and 2005. Trends show that the average age of pig producers is increasing, quite notably the last five years; 2000 to 2005. It increased by 4.1 years over the past five years. Producers are staying in the industry longer and fewer are entering; especially younger producers. Employee trends show the same thing–that the average age is increasing; it increased by 6.6 years from 2000 to 2005. Employees too are staying in the industry longer reflecting less turnover. Education levels of producers and employees are increasing. This is most notable with employees. About one in ten employees (9%) indicated they have a DVM or Ph.D. The percent with a masters degree or equivalent also increased from 2000 to 2005. An interesting phenomenon with employees is that the percent without a high school diploma is also increasing. This group went from 3.7 percent to 9.3 percent of employees between 2000 and 2005. Hog farms are becoming increasingly specialized and larger. While the farrow-to-finish system remains the dominant system, its relative importance has decreased dramatically. It has declined from about 8 in 10 producers in 1990 to 4 in 10 producers in 2005. Contract finishers as well as wean-to-finish producers have shown notable growth. The percent of producers producing 25,000 or more pigs annually increased from 3.4 percent in 1995 to 15.7 percent in 2005. About one in twenty producers indicated they produced 100,000 or more pigs annually.