Iowas Changing Swine Industry

Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 2006. Iowa has led the U.S. in swine production and pig inventory since the 1880s. Pig production has been a reliable value-added enterprise on many Iowa farms for generations. In spite of this 120-year national leadership, Iowas swine industry has been changing profoundly within the state. Iowa agriculture from 1978 to 2002 endured many changes. During the 1980s, Iowa endured the Farm (debt) Crisis. In the 1990s industrialization of the swine industry became widespread in the U.S. and Iowa. In 1997 and 1998, hog prices plummeted to historic lows. In the face of all of these changes, Iowa has continued to lead the U.S. in pig production, but major changes in the industrys structure have caused remarkable shifts in the location of Iowas pigs and the numbers of people involved in pig production. For example, in 25 years, the number of Iowa farms with pigs declined 83% from 59,134 farms in 1978 to 10,205 farms in 2002. Using Census of Agriculture data and U.S. Hogs and Pigs Report data, hog inventories were plotted by county in Iowa. The results are dramatic. Maps of Iowas counties with numbers of hogs per county are shown for 2002, 1987 (15 years earlier) and 1980 or 1978 (depending on the data source). In 1980 and prior to that time, every Iowa county had significant numbers of pigs. Some counties Delaware, Washington, Mahaska, Crawford, Carroll, Plymouth, and Sioux had larger numbers of pigs than other counties. In 1978, Iowas 14.7 million pigs were significant in every county. Even populous counties like Linn and Scott had notable inventories of pigs. But in 2002, the most recent Census of Agriculture, Iowas 15.5 million pigs have shifted location and are much less evenly distributed. North central Iowa Hamilton, Hardin, Wright, and Franklin counties, western Iowa Audubon, Carroll, and Sac counties, and northwest Iowa Lyon, Osceola, Sioux, Plymouth, OBrien, Emmet, and Palo Alto counties have more pigs than prior years. Except for the Washington/Mahaska county and the Union/Ringgold county areas, southern and eastern Iowa generally have fewer pigs. One way to look at the data is to look at the total inventory of pigs per county. In 1978, there were two Iowa counties with less than 50,000 pigs. Twenty-five years later in 2002 there were 24 counties with less than 50,000 pigs. In 1978, there were no Iowa counties with more than 400,000 pigs but in 2002 there were nine Iowa counties with more than 400,000 pigs. Two of those counties Hardin and Sioux had more than 800,000 pigs. The pig inventory of Iowa has become increasingly concentrated into a few areas. When the data is presented as pigs per square mile or pig density, the shifts are even more pronounced. In 1987, the entire state of Iowa was a relatively pig dense state with density somewhat evenly distributed across the state. In 2002, Iowa is a state with very high and also low pig densities. There are about 25 counties that have a high density of pigs. However, some counties have few pigs per square mile. In fact, Fremont and Clarke counties in southern Iowa have less than one pig per square mile.