Minnesota hog farmer turns to selling on social media after plants close

Hog farmers in Minnesota are running out of places to send their livestock, and some will be forced to euthanize them. But in Northfield, one farmer is taking a different approach.

Brad Kluver, a third generation pig farmer, said his barn should normally be empty by this time of year. Instead, the nearly 1,200 pigs have nowhere to go. 

“We went from having planned all of this 10 months out, having a market for these pigs – that flipped on a switch,” Kluver said.

This pork production problem is something no generation before him has dealt with.

“It’s really been a struggle and we’re really trying to hold it together,” said Rusty Kluver, Brad’s father. 

When they got word that Smithfield – the company who buys and processes their pigs – shut down because of coronavirus, they posted on social media asking for their community to help out and buy some of their pigs.

“In just 48 hours, we had over 400 families reach out to us wanting to purchase pork and help support us through this,” Brad said. “We were left high and dry with nowhere to go and nowhere to turn and that’s where our community stepped up.”

The family was also able to get connected with other, smaller pork producers who were able to take some of their pigs and get them ready to be sold to consumers. 

Brad and his family have been able to sell around 300 of their pigs, but like so many other Minnesota farmers right now, they still have hundreds of animals ready for market with nowhere to go.

Dave Preisler, CEO of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association says in the next few weeks, Minnesota farmers like the Kluvers will be forced to euthanize 300,000 to 400,000 pigs. 

The farmers can’t stop the pigs from growing. Once they get too big, they will be too large to process and too large for farmers to keep housing and feeding. Preisler said farmers will have no choice but to euthanize them. 

“It’s heartbreaking and it is tragic, and it is ripping up the inside of farmers as they have to do this, but they don’t have a choice,” he said. 

The Minnesota Pork Producer’s Association is asking the federal government to help farmers in Minnesota financially. They’re also asking the state to help with the euthanization process to make sure it’s done in a way that’s humane and safe for the environment. 

It’s a tough decision Minnesota farmers will have to make as they lose out on making their living and look towards an uncertain future. 

“It’s what I’ve grown up loving doing, and right now it’s on the line,” Brad said.

For more information on the Kluvers' farm, click here.