Blog | February 9, 2015

Nebraskans take note: You can help independent hog producers right now!

AliciaTell your State Congressmen that farmers should own livestock, not foreign meatpackers!

In 1980, there were more than 666,000 hog farms across the nation, but according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, we now have only 56,000 – meaning we’ve lost nearly 92 percent of America’s hog farms.

Photo courtesy of the USDA

The most important force behind that loss has been consolidation in the meatpacking sector and the growing reach of multinational corporate meatpackers into different stages of hog production – a process called vertical integration.

“Packer ownership” of hogs themselves is the final nail in the coffin for independent hog producers. This trend can push producers out of business, erode the markets that farmers sell to, and drive down prices for farmers. It has also been an important driver behind the proliferation of “factory” hog farms in the country. The stronger this corporate-backed, industrial model becomes, the harder it is for alternative pork production and marketing systems (very promising options for a new generation of family hog producers) to take root.

Here at Farm Aid, we’ve profiled what this looks like in the poultry industry, where full vertical integration has been allowed to take hold, giving poultry integrators ownership over chickens and leaving growers are virtual serfs on the land.

The most recent Census of Agriculture shows a striking difference between Nebraska, which has an intact prohibition of packer ownership of livestock animals, and Iowa, where farmers do not enjoy the same protection. In Nebraska, 78 percent of hogs marketed are sold by independent producers, while 21 percent were vertically integrated. In Iowa, just 43 percent of hogs are marketed from independent farms and 56 percent were vertically integrated.

And that’s where you come in, fair readers. Multinational meatpackers (like Smithfield Foods, which was purchased by China last year) are working to undo the packer ownership bans put in place to protect Nebraska’s family livestock producers.

Join other Nebraska farmers, ranchers and concerned citizens in signing this petition from our partner, the Center for Rural Affairs. Stand with Nebraska’s independent family farmers and ranchers in opposition to packer ownership.

Banning packers from owning livestock is the last protection for independent livestock producers throughout the country. Make sure your lawmakers oppose LB 176.

And if you’re a farmer or a rancher, join the chorus of voices who will testify at the Capitol in Lincoln on Tuesday, February 10! You can contact Traci Brucker at or John Crabtree at to get involved.

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