Hog lot

From Academic Kids

Hog lots are large-scale confinement areas for hogs. These are a contentious issue in agribusiness, agriculture, and rural sociology. Critics argue that the hog lots are too large, poorly run, inhumane, or unfriendly to family farming. Some argue that the hog lots contaminate local ground water supplies via drainage wells, creeks, rivers, and the like. They also argue that the hog lots are destroying valuable agricultural lands.


The hog lot

The typical hog lot is a series of large warehouse-like buildings surrounded by agricultural land and sometimes by liquid manure pits called 'lagoons'. The buildings are ventilated and their temperature is regulated to maximize the pigs' growth. The buildings are usually arranged in rows, surrounded by farmland where crops such as corn and soybeans are fed to the hogs.

Each warehouse contains from 5,000 to 10,000 pigs packed in each building. There may be up to 100,000 hogs in the series of buildings.

Disease in hog lots are carefully monitored. The buildings are also divided into a number of sections and this isolation further reduces the problem of disease. The hogs themselves are also isolated from human contact with access carefully monitored and special clothing when inside the buildings. In fact, free range hogs have a tendency to spread more disease to humans than hog lots. The flu epidemics tend to be sourced to areas of Southern China proximate to Hong Kong precisely because the hogs are free range and have high human contact. There is a strong trend toward hog lots in China for precisely this reason.

Criticism of hog lots

Osha Gray Davidson quotes a farmer, "They call it economic development, but they don't realize the consequences. It's just unbelievable the smell that comes off of there. Remember, I've raised hogs. I know what hog manure smells like. This is different. It's unbelievable, within 3 miles are 6,400,000 chickens and 26,000 hogs. Now it's one neighbor against another. We're called revolutionists because we're stopping progress. I know what's happening to gas stations and grocery stores, now it's happening to farmers."

Davidson quotes another farmer, "It has ruined our whole environment. We cannot live here. We've become angry." [1]

Hog lot accidents

In 1995, a dike surrounding a 12ft manure-lagoon broke allowing ~25,000,000 gallons of feces and urine to flow into the New River in North Carolina. This resulted in the deaths of thousands of fish and contamination for miles downstream.

Effects on family farms

Between 1982 and 1987 some 21% of Iowa hog farmers went out of business. By 1992, another 12% had gone out of business. Critics argue that this is, in large part, a result of hog lot expansion. [1]

Osha Gray Davidson writes: "As the rural economy continues its slide, the beachhead established by the far right will continue to grow. A significant number of rural ghetto residents are going to be cut off and are sure to seek their salvation in the politics of hate."

Davidson adds, "Adam Smith argued that market concentration is a threat to society. I believe democracy is endangered by the destruction of the family farm. The countryside is dominated by superfarms, corporate hog lots, and factory towns where people labor for poverty wages in unsafe and unhealthy conditions."


[1] Osha Gray Davidson: "In the wake of huge hog lots, what is replacing the heartland's family farms?" Des Moines Register (January 5, 1997). Adapted from his book Broken Heartland: The Rise of Americans' Rural Ghetto.


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