My father, a family farmer in Iowa, markets approximately 1600 hogs a year.
Right now there is a three month wait at the local locker to "book" a time
to butcher a hog. That isn't good when your hogs weigh 260 lbs today.
There are 20,000 people in the county. 12-15 farmers who are the same
size as my father could probably take care of the whole county's pork needs
for a year. In actuality, there were 1100 farmers in the county in 1997.
Perhaps one-fourth (a pure guess-but in that county it used to be more than
half) raise hogs. How do 250 farmers direct market their hogs in rural
Iowa to get a premium price?
I agree there needs to be better market alternatives than the current
structure. But, direct marketing is only an answer for a few. In my view,
farmers need to switch mentalities from being commodity producers and
instead become bacon, ham, and pork chop, etc. suppliers. When that type
of new thinking takes place, farmers will organize their operations and
their marketing outlets to put them in the drivers' seat. The role of
passive price-taker is a dead-end road.
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