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Abstract

US swine production has undergone significant structural change in the last two decades, reflecting increasing size and specialization (Key and McBride; Key). In particular, the widespread use of contracting has enabled individual producers to grow by specializing in a single phase of production. Once dominated by small operations that practiced crop and hog farming along with other livestock enterprises, the industry has increasingly concentrated among large operations in most regions that produce hogs on several different sites (especially in North Carolina). Survey results for 2008-2011 indicate that some independent hog producers remain competitive, suggesting the rate of sharp decline in independent hog production that took place between 1992 and 2004 may have slowed. In future research we will sort on DuPont results more thoroughly to account for differences in organizational arrangement—whether farrowing or not---as production contracts tend to be much more prevalent on finish operations.

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