Study: Minnesota pork industry to take estimated $660 million hit due to COVID-19

University of Minnesota researchers expect an estimated loss of $660 million in economic activity in Minnesota’s pork industry, according to a new study published Thursday.

The University of Minnesota Extension used an estimated unemployment rate of 15 percent to determine the economic impact. The study also found a 15 percent drop in hog production would lead to an estimated loss of 2,100 jobs.

On average, Minnesota hog farms generate $1.5 million in economic activity, but the interruption in hog processing due to COVID-19 left farmers with few options as far as selling their animals. The ripple effects of this problem extend to feed, land rent, truck and veterinary businesses in the industry.

Approximately 45 percent of hogs that would normally have been processed in the last week of April had no market. This issue led to the euthanization of thousands of hogs at various sites across the state earlier this month. 

Minnesota’s 3,562 hog farms produce about one-fifth of all pork sold in the United States, exporting about $763 million worth in 2019 alone.  

To make matters worse, hog farmers lost 32 cents per hog in 2019 before COVID-19 struck the industry.