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Hog industry hurdles - navigating challenges in pork production
Minnesota Ag Connection - 02/09/2024

The hog industry is currently facing many challenges. The market price for hogs has been disappointingly low, with producers losing money consistently over the past year. For instance, selling a 280-pound pig fetched only $100, despite the costs of raising such a pig far exceeding this amount.

A significant concern for pig farmers is the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), a virus that severely affects pig populations, leading to high mortality rates among newborns and significant losses across various stages of pig growth.

Despite the availability of vaccines, the mutating nature of the virus makes control efforts challenging. Biosecurity measures are paramount, yet even with stringent protocols, controlling PRRS remains a daunting task, especially given the virus's ability to spread through air and feed.

On the regulatory front, California's Proposition 12 has introduced new space requirements for sows, posing additional financial burdens on farmers to comply with standards that do not necessarily improve the quality of meat. This regulation has also created logistical challenges, limiting the options for selling hogs and increasing transportation costs.

The cost of inputs for pig farming has skyrocketed, with expenses in 2023 being 53% higher than in 2020. Such escalating costs, combined with the oversupply of pork and declining demand, have put further pressure on farmers.

The future of pig health may lie in gene editing, although consumer acceptance remains a question. As the industry navigates these hurdles, the resilience and adaptability of farmers are tested, highlighting the need for supportive policies and innovative solutions to ensure the sustainability of pork production.


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