Closures and shutdowns are still leaving many producers struggling with what to do with their hogs.
It’s time to plant in Indiana and Brandon Laidig of J&T Laidig Farms is not wasting a moment. Yet, there's added stress to planting this year. The Laidig family has a farrow-to-finish hog operation. Like many others, the packing plant they use is only open to limited production. Their hogs, which are ready for market, are gaining weight and have nowhere to go.
Laidig says, “Where are we going to be able to market these market-ready 260 pound plus pigs have a place to go with them?”
It's problematic since producers have to schedule trips to plant months in advance. They also have to sanitize barns before new hogs arrive. It's hard to slow down how fast hogs grow.
“Next week, we will need to clean out the next barn and we have probably 1,100 head left in there,” says Laidig.
Timing is critical for hog producers. Since Laidig can’t bring his hogs to the packing plant, he found another way.
He posted a message to Facebook and invited anyone with a trailer to come pick up and pay for hogs.
“I was flooded with messages,” says Laidig. “I talked to probably 400 plus people since I posted.”
He is selling each for 40 cents per pound.
“Even the 40 cents we are selling to the public, is not, you know, breakeven or making us a profit,” says Laidig.
Producers around the U.S. haven't been as fortunate, some forced to euthanize.
“The two packing plants we have in Indiana, they process more than 15,000 pigs every single working day,” says Jayson Lusk, an agriculture economics professor at Purdue University. “Even if you have a small packing plant that can do 150 hogs per day, that plant has to run for 100 days to equal 1 day of one of these large packing plants.”
As Laidig continues to plant, he doesn't have time to stop. He carries the difficulties of plant closures as he hopes the seed he plants brings better news soon.