Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Monday, October 02, 2006

Smithfield Merger: Enough is Enough

Enough is Enough

by John Crabtree, Center for Rural Affairs,

Smithfield Foods, the nation’s largest pork producer and packer, recently announced that they intend to acquire Premium Standard Farms, the nation’s number two pork producer and number six packer.

According to Successful Farming, Smithfield owns 800,000 sows and Premium Standard owns 221,000, bringing Smithfield’s holdings to over one million sows, at least 20% of U.S. hog production, and 31% of U.S. pork packing. And they will own over 50% of all the hogs they slaughter each year. In a world where packers own all the pigs and cattle, what need is there for farmers and ranchers, or, for that matter, rural communities?

Smithfield wants to own the sows, the pigs, the processing and the label. Smithfield wants farmers to borrow money to build the confinements, accept all the risk, spread the manure, and that’s all.

The regulators at the Justice Department and Packers and Stockyards Administration should put down their invitations to the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Smithfield sign at Premium Standard Farms and reject this merger. That’s harsh, I suppose, but remember, this is the same Packers and Stockyards Administration that lied to farmers, ranchers and Congress by claiming to have conducted 1,739 investigations into potential violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act, investigations later revealed as a sham intended to convince everyone that they were doing their jobs.

Congress should prohibit packer ownership of livestock and price discrimination against small and mid sized farmers and ranchers. Enough is enough, and Smithfield has taken too much.

post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.


  • At 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Smithfield abuses their workers too, as well as farmers.

  • At 9:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    yes, Smithfield has been in the news about their mistreatment of workers - check out

  • At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    John, I could not agree more. This post, composed as a letter to the editor i'm sure, ran in the Sioux City Journal yesterday.

  • At 5:47 AM, Blogger threecollie said…

    Vertical integration like this sounds the death knell for traditional farming. Where are the investigations into this kind of monopoly? Buried on desks at the USDA, hidden in the shadow of the big bucks that the big companies have to throw around.
    The same sort of thing is going on in dairy at least in the Northeast. It is concealed behind companies within companies within cooperatives and keeps prices just nicely below the subsitance level for small dairymen.


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