Contract hog production and environmental management in the southern United States

Rick Welsh, Bryan Hubbell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The 1980s and 1990s have witnessed substantial changes in the U.S. swine industry. The industry structure has shifted from relatively large numbers of hog (Sus scrofa) farm operators producing for open markets to fewer and larger farm operators raising hogs under contracts for intermediary firms or meatpackers. This shift has resulted in debates over whether the movement from independent to contract hog production has proven beneficial or detrimental for manure management and pollution control. To shed light on these debates, we surveyed by mail independent and contract hog producers in the southern USA and gathered data on the structure of their farms, their opinions on environmental issues in the hog industry, and their manure management strategies. The survey results indicate that contract producers maintain higher animal units per hectare and spread the hog manure over smaller areas than do independents. However, contract producers also realize they are pushing the adsorptive capacity of their farms and adopt ameliorating and monitoring technologies at higher rates than independent producers. We conclude that market structure is an important determinant of farm structure and environmental management regime, and that adoption of pollution control technologies is not equivalent to environmental performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)883-888
Number of pages6
JournalAgronomy Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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