(KEYC) — The University of Minnesota Extension took a closer look at the impact the loss of hog farms across Minnesota can have on the state’s economy as a whole.
Also in support of the industry, Rep. Jim Hagedorn (MN-01) is advising the U.S. Department of Agriculture to oversee hog processing to make sure independent farmers are getting their share.
Research released on Thursday by the University of Minnesota Extension stated that hogs account for 17% of the state’s agricultural sales and the complications from COVID-19 on pork producers in the state could have a lasting impact on rural communities.
“Each of our hog farms in the state generates $1.5 million in economic activity and that comes from them buying inputs at the local feed mills or paying the loans at their banks all the way to the spending their employees are doing in the local community,” University of Minnesota Extension Agriculture Economist Joleen Hadrich said.
The Extension team conducting the research figured in the 15% national unemployment rate to the economic activity from hog farmers in the state and saw an estimated loss of more than $600 million of economic activity in Minnesota.
“We have the second highest hog sales in the U.S., so we are a big hog producer for the country,” said Hadrich.
Disruptions in hog processing created a bottleneck in the industry and with estimates that around 10,000 hogs a day were being euthanized at one point and producers facing record profit losses, producers are struggling.
“These family farmers are in this through no fault of their own, this is just something that was hoisted upon them,” said Hagedorn.
Hagedorn is urging the USDA to make sure independent farmers are getting their share at processing plants as they operate in a limited capacity.
“And in that process, we found that about 7% or 8% of the packer owned hogs have been increasing, and around 7% or 8% of the independently owned hogs were not going through production and we thought that if there was something there that needed to be corrected, we’d ask [Agriculture] Secretary [Sonny] Perdue,” Hagedorn explained.
Last week, Hagedorn sent a letter to Perdue, asking him to ensure the pork market is operating without deceptive behavior.
“And you know, when smaller farmers sell out, they sell out to bigger operators, bigger operators aren’t bad folks, but it means less people holding the land, working the land, going to our schools,” said Hagedorn.
The University of Minnesota Extension team’s research found that a 15% drop in hog production would lead to a loss of more than 2,000 jobs.