Agricultural Policy Review


THE US livestock industry has experienced drastic structural changes over the last two decades. The industry has shifted towards greater specialization across production phases, increased reliance on off-farm inputs such as feed, and increased use of production contracts (McBride and Key 2013). One trend that is particularly relevant to Iowa policymakers, farmers, and rural Iowans is the increased prevalence, size, and regional intensity of large, enclosed hog feeding operations. Where many of the largest hog-producing states have seen modest increases or even declines in total hog inventories over time, Iowa has seen a steady increase in inventories since 1982 (Figure 1a). Within Iowa, production concentrates in north-central and northwestern counties (Figure 1b).