Dakota Farmer

SDSU Extension swine specialist Robert Thaler shares the economic benefits hogs can bring.

Lon Tonneson, Editor, Dakota Farmer

November 20, 2019

2 Min Read
closeup of three piglets
PIG IMPACT: Baby pigs being raised in a farrowing barn look small, but collectively they create jobs and raise corn prices. USDA ARS

Growth in the hog industry in south central South Dakota isn’t benefiting just the farmers who build the barns and do the hog chores, according to Robert Thaler, South Dakota State University Extension swine specialist.

It’s narrowed the corn basis for everyone and created jobs in rural South Dakota, too.

Corn basis

In a presentation at the 2018 South Dakota Livestock Summit, Thaler showed what’s happened to the corn basis in Parkston, S.D., which has been the hub of hog development in south central South Dakota. He compared it to corn basis in Sioux Center, Iowa. Sioux Center is in Sioux County, the No. 1 hog producing county in Iowa. Parkston is approximately 100 miles west of Sioux Center.

Between 2014 and mid-2018, the difference between the Sioux Center basis and the Parkston basis narrowed 28 cents per bushel. The decrease reflected added demand for corn around Parkston, he said.

Given average yields, gross income per of corn would have increased $56 per acre in the Parkston area

“Hogs have been a win for farmers, even if they don’t have hogs,” Thaler said.

More jobs

Thirteen to 15 people are needed to work a 5,400-head sow barn, Thaler said. Daily chores in a 2,400-head finishing barn takes one person about two hours per day. In a 2,400-head nursery, one person will have to spend about two and a half to four hours a day taking care of the pigs.

But those aren’t the only jobs that are created by hogs.

For the 2018 Livestock Summit presentation, Thaler asked construction companies, equipment manufacturers and feed suppliers in south central South Dakota how many jobs they added due to expansion of the hog industry. He came up with estimate of approximately 300 jobs.

table showing number of jobs created in south central South Dakota due to hog industry expansion

“It seems pretty clear. If you want to create jobs in rural towns, you have to have chores to do on the farm,” Thaler said, quoting Bill Even, former South Dakota secretary of agriculture and the current CEO of the National Pork Board.

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