Two Piglets Looking at CameraThe U.S. swine industry has changed significantly in the span of one generation. According to a recent USDA report, there are half as many hog farms in 2017 as there were in 1997 and the largest of those farms raise 93% of the nation’s pig herd. The report, authored by seven USDA economists, noted that with the emergence of widespread production contracts and larger operations, smaller hog farms are less efficient. Iowa still leads the nation in pork production, as does the Midwest in general.

The largest hog farms, those with more than 2,000 head, held 61% of the nation’s hog herd in 1997. 10 years later, in 2017, this percentage has climbed to 91% and is expected to continue growing. The number of independent operators has declined significantly in this same time period. Meanwhile, per-capita consumption of pork has remained stable while exports have climbed significantly.

Read more on the U.S. pork industry here.