Pork production is the strength of Iowa's economy

IOWA - Some may say it's hogwash, but pigs are one of the strongest contributors to Iowa's economy, contributing $12 billion annually to the state's economy. That's a lot of bacon.
calendar icon 9 October 2003
clock icon 4 minute read
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Iowa leads the nation in pork production, with producers marketing almost 25 million hogs in Iowa each year, which account for 25% of the pork produced in the United States. Iowa's climate, hardworking families, excellent transportation, harvest facilities and fertile soil make Iowa the logical place in the U.S. to raise hogs. While this volume of production has changed very little in the state over the past several decades, feeding pigs in Iowa is as critical today as ever.

"Iowa's first farmers realized the value of raising livestock in the state, both from feeding Iowa's grain to pigs and utilizing manure as a valuable natural fertilizer," said Curtis Meier, President of the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

Today that still holds true.

"Raising pigs in Iowa makes us one of the few truly sustainable states," said Meier. "With our large crop base, grain farmers are fortunate to have a large captive market for their corn and soybeans, and the manure nutrients are used as natural fertilizer input for crop production - an economic advantage to Iowa farmers."

Corn and soybeans supply the primary nutrient needs for pork production. "Feed costs alone make up 60% of the total inputs for pork production," said Meier. On average, Iowa pork producers utilize 124 million bushels of soybeans and 390 million bushels of corn annually.

Pork production in the state also provides 86,000 jobs to Iowans. These jobs go beyond the farm. Thousands of Iowans are employed as truck drivers, veterinarians, pork processors, researchers, business consultants and numerous other careers. Meier points out, "Most of the people involved in this business are part of rural Iowa."

According to research conducted by Iowa State University, pork production makes generous contributions in tax revenue for rural Iowa. In fact, $71.5 million is paid each year to schools and local communities in Iowa where pork production flourishes. For every pig that is produced in Iowa, $2.75 in local tax revenue is generated from the economic activity of feeding and caring for that animal.

Further research also shows that economic benefits are enjoyed by rural communities with more pork production. Dr. John Lawrence, ISU Extension Economist, puts the information into perspective by comparing total ag-receipts/acre which helps quantify the economic impact of adding value to grain by feeding it to livestock rather than exporting the grain out of the county. Sioux County, the state's largest pork producing county, has an average of $1200 in ag-receipts/harvested acre. On the other side of the spectrum, the lowest ranking county in pork production only generates $283 in ag-receipts/harvested acre.

Iowa also has ten major packing plants accounting for 30% of the U.S. harvest capacity. Twenty-one plants are located in Iowa, or within a hundred mile radius in surrounding states, accounting for 59% of U.S. slaughter. Packing companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually to buy the market-ready hogs raised by Iowa's pork producers. In addition to generating millions of dollars in payroll, the packers also purchase local supplies and services.

"With an infrastructure suited for livestock, Iowa will continue to be the best location for pork production," said Meier.

Source: Iowa Pork Producers Association - October 2003

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