Home 5 Ag Stories Could more healthy pigs hurt small farmers in the long run?

Could more healthy pigs hurt small farmers in the long run?

by Ben Nuelle

Researchers at Kansas State University and University of Missouri found new a way to prevent the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome virus or PRRS in pigs but if this helps the hog industry could it hurt small hog businesses in the long run?

Darrel Burt is from Marshalltown. His hog operation is a 750 sow farrow to finish unit producing 20,000 pigs a year. Burt says the new find with resistant pigs to PRRS is a game-changer because healthier pigs means more of them.

“Will it allow me being a small producer is it going to force me out or am I still going to be able to play ball with the big boys,” Burt says. “If the bigger operations keep going and the price of hogs goes down because of supply and demand because there is so much supply, I’m afraid I could be the first one out because my pockets aren’t as deep. On the other hand, I am not going to lose as much money as the big guys because they know how to find investors and outside money. Maybe that is something I have to turn to, and figure out where I am getting my money from.”

Director of the National Swine Resource and Research Center Dr. Randall Prather says a lot has to be done before the new resistant gene is used outside the lab.

“I’m not sure how it will affect the industry because first we have to show these animals have the same production traits as non-gene-edited animals and we have to get through some regulatory approvals. It looks promising and the pigs we have they have been raised in laboratory setting. We haven’t put them through a production system. Yeah they appear healthy and seem to grow fine but we haven’t done any comparisons yet,” Burt says.