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Background of Pork Production in U.S.

Number of Hog Operations
Wild boars domesticated in N. Europe c.1500 B.C., are believed to be the ancestor of modern domesticated hogs, along with a genetic input from smaller Asian species domesticated in China around 3000 B.C. Pork, the meat from swine, was widely consumed throughout the ancient world and the Roman Empire. Pigs were not indigenous to the Americas, but came from Europe and the Orient. Columbus brought hogs on his second voyage to the Americas in 1493. Polynesians may have brought pigs from the Orient to the Hawaiian Islands even earlier.

U.S. Hog Inventory
For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, pork was the preferred meat in the U.S. Hogs were valued not just for their meat but for the lard, which was used for everything from cooking and lamp oil to baking and making candles and soap. As Americans became more health conscious, they lost much of their appetite for animal fats, switching to more healthy vegetable oils. Production began to focus on the pigs’ ability to efficiently convert feed into protein, which resulted in a much leaner type of pig being produced.

There has also been a significant change in how and where hogs are produced in the U.S. over the ‎past 50 years. Low consumer prices, and therefore low producer prices, have resulted in larger, ‎more efficient operations, with many smaller farms no longer able to produce pigs profitably. Since ‎the late 1990s, the number of farms with hogs decreased by over 70 percent. (USDA Hogs & Pork ‎Background) However, even with the decline in farms with hogs, the U.S. is the third largest pork ‎producer and consumer and the largest exporter of pork and pork products. (USDA; Hogs & Pork ‎Overview)‎

Cattle, Broilers, Hogs, Turkeys Value of Production 1960 - 2011

In 2007, sales of all animals in the U.S. totaled over $80 billion. Included in the total sales of ‎animals is the number of hog and pig sales which totaled $18.1 billion. (2007 Census of ‎Agriculture) Currently, most of the swine in the United States are produced in in the Midwest--Iowa ‎and Southern Minnesota, particularly--and in eastern North Carolina. Worldwide, China is by far the ‎largest producer of pork, producing nearly four times as much as the U.S.‎

There are many breeds of swine, such as Hampshire, Duroc, Poland, China, Landrace, etc., but most farms use crossbreeds to try to gain the best traits of each breed.

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U.S. USDA. Economic Research Service. Hogs & Pork; Overview. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Apr. 2013. ‎‎<http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/animal-products/hogs-pork.aspx#.UWWKvpMX-w4>.‎Exit EPA

U.S. USDA. Economic Research Service. Hogs & Pork; Background. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. ‎‎<http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/animal-products/hogs-pork/background.aspx#.UWWMZ5MX-w4>.‎Exit EPA

U.S. USDA. National Agricultural Statistics Service. Farms, Land in Farms, and Livestock Operations 2012 ‎Summary. N.p., Feb. 2013. Web. ‎‎<http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/FarmLandIn/FarmLandIn-02-19-2013.pdf>.‎Exit EPA

U.S. USDA. National Agricultural Statistics Service. 2007 Census of Agriculture; Hogs and Pigs Farming. ‎N.p., 24 May 2010. Web. ‎‎<http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2007/Online_Highlights/Fact_Sheets/Production/hogsandpigs.pdf>.‎Exit EPA


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