Local hog and cattle companies pushing through Smithfield Foods closing
CAPUTA, S.D. — Maude Hog and Cattle held their fourth annual Live Auction 4-H and FFA Show Pig Sale. The purpose is to allow young people involved in 4-H and FFA programs to have an opportunity to bid on their own hogs, which they will then raise and show at their county fair. But the ranch does not only sell hogs to young people, it also sells to local processing plants.
“We see a true bottleneck at the processing level, and when we see a large scale plant like Smithfield (Foods) close, we do see that impact all the way down to the local level,” said Heather Maude, the co-owner of Maude Hog and Cattle. “There is not the ability to move anymore volume of beef or pork through those, so we can still get our product through, but there isn’t room for the additional product that we now see not going through Smithfield.”
Hogs only take around 6 months to fully raise, and are usually sent for processing at that time. With a shortage of options, ranchers must now make decisions about what to do with a number of hogs that cannot be processed.
“We are operating in very very tight margins in Agriculture right now, and hogs are no exception to that,” Maude said. “So the opportunity to make any money will cease to exist very rapidly. And when that happens that’s when we start to see a lost in infrastructure in terms of those who will feed hogs. Some of them may have to close their doors because they may have to physically take a zero on a load of hogs that was potentially worth several thousand dollars.”
Although the outlook for many farmers looks bleak, Maude wants people to remember there are vibrant farming and ranching communities across America working to provide the safest and most wholesome food supply.