Northwest and Allee Research and Demonstration Farm

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In 1994, Paul Willis, a hog farmer from northern Iowa, was introduced to Bill Niman, a specialty food supplier in the San Francisco area. After 1 year Willis’ farm was the sole source of Niman Ranch pork. Demand grew. Producers from Iowa set up a 50/50 joint venture and in 1998 created Niman Ranch Pork Company. Niman Ranch Pork now supplies meat for Niman McConnell (Oakland, CA), who distributes to hundreds of restaurants and retailers nationwide. Niman Ranch Pork (Thornton, IA) buys pigs from 210 producers in Iowa and neighboring states. A premium of $6.00/cwt live is paid on each pig, when conventional hog prices are $34–$48/cwt. All pigs are identified by their farm of origin and are tracked for quality control purposes. Meat quality ratings are given to producers based on pH, color, shear force, drip loss, and taste scores.

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Iowa State University



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