- Animals: swine
- Animal Production: feed/forage
- Education and Training: farmer to farmer
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, marketing management, value added
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships
There is a considerable interest in small scale hog farming (SSHF) as evidenced by the 5 farmers in this project. The limited resource small scale hog producer works on a narrow margin if any above actual costs when selling at sale barns. There is no profitable opportunity to sell hogs to sale barns for small producers. Independent small scale production with heritage breeds is often too small to consider contracts. As small hog producers we are at a distinct disadvantage for making a profit and competing with large conventional hog operations. Feed costs go up with small scale production. Transportation costs are higher when delivering live hogs in smaller numbers. Many small scale producers sell direct to consumer requiring more time and record keeping. Small scale pasture based producers are not rewarded for their environmentally sustainable production. It is a challenge to return enough profits for small producers to continue to raise pigs. There is no incentive, nor successful model, for enticing new farmers into pork production. Conventional hog farming (CHF) margins are very narrow as well. The cost of entry for conventional production is a barrier. It requires a large investment to begin production at a scale large enough to generate any kind of profits for supporting a family. Large scale conventional hog production has negative environmental (concentrated manure, runoff, odor) and economic (fewer jobs, exporting dollars) impacts. Scaling up is not the answer.
The key to our solution comes from Developing Sustainable Hog Markets and Slaughtering Arrangements for Family Farmers in Missouri which identified the rising opportunities for pork producers who innovate and adopt new cooperative arrangements between producers, processors and consumers. These arrangements, as well as those identifying new value added trends as the most likely avenue to sustainable small scale hog farming.
We propose to explore the opportunity of value added pork products for small producers via a collaboration of small farmers, creative chef(s), and a USDA inspected processor. Specifically, with non-heat treated shelf stable charcuterie products like salami, coppa and lardo.
Our solution for improving narrow profit margins for small scale hog farmers producing hogs in a sustainable method is to provide an example for offering niche, specialty and high end meat products. Our focus is on three value added pork charcuterie products, lardo, coppa and sopressata. The recipes will be developed by trained restaurant chefs. The next step will be for the chefs working with a consultant and the USDA inspected plant, to develop a HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point plan for each product. HACCP is an expensive, important piece for producing safe products and required by the FDA. Validation of the HACCP will include lab testing for relevant pathogens (i.e., e. coli, listeria, staph, and salmonella). Once recipes, a validated HACCP plan and approved label have been achieved then a batch for testing the market will be produced under inspection. The first batches will be made with farm identified hogs and farm labels. Each farm will market those products to existing retail and wholesale markets. Sampling and surveys of consumers will occur at six locations. Each farm will record expenses and revenue for evaluating the profitability from the project.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Benefit the environment by supporting pastured hog operations, which reduce runoff compared to lots or confinement, spread manure to feed the soil, and provide a higher quality of life for animals.
- Increase farmers' profitability by sharing production costs and growing the market and value of local pork.
- Strengthen farming and business relationships through this cooperative project to grow the local economy as a whole and provide consumers with more local meat options.
- Share project results by publishing a journal article, presenting to local food hub members, talking at farmers markets, and posting information online.