Taking advantage of low feed prices and an increasing demand for pork from countries including China and Mexico, farmers in Iowa, who produce nearly a third of the nation’s hogs, have increased construction of swine farm buildings, according to a Reuters report.
In 2015, Iowa farmers built 280 barns capable of holding more than 1,250 pigs, over 60 percent more than 2014 but shy of the 347 constructed in 2012, according to data recently released by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Farmers view building a hog barn as an effective way to increase income without having to invest or spend a lot of money.
But they may be disappointed. With hog prices near six-year lows and profits still impacted from the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus outbreak in 2013-2014, adding numbers to the U.S. herd could cut incomes further this year from 2015, experts said in the report. This year, farmers could struggle to make any profit in the first half, Iowa State University predicts, with annual earnings sliding to $5.41 per head.
Iowa is the top pork-producing state in the U.S. and the top state for pork exports with $6.8 billion dollars in sales in 2012, according to the USDA’s Census of Agriculture.