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Robert Bryce nearby residents, local grain supplies, and a semi-arid climate. All this makes the area “the next great frontier for pigs,” says John McGlone, who teaches swine production and animal science at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. “The pork industry is booming,” says McGlone. “There’s no doubt about it.” And while it may be some time before Texas, which currently ranks nineteenth among pork-producing states, overtakes hog production leaders Iowa or North Carolina, these vertically integrated High Plains hog farms are going to make Texas a major player in the industry. McGlone and other industry watchers say the shakeout in the pork industry, in which small producers are muscled aside by agribusiness giants, was inevitable. “It happened in computers, software, in automobiles. It happened in the beef feedlots, it happened in poultry. And now its happening in the pork industry,” said McGlone. In North Carolina, for example, the number of hog producers has declined from 23,000 to 8,000 over the past decade while the number of hogs has tripled. The U.S. pork industry is a $30-billion-a-year business and the 12 largest hog producers now own 1.2 million sows, or about 20 percent of all the sows in the country. And that percentage appears to be growing. A report issued earlier this year by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago said the trend presents a “foreboding picture for the typical family farm concept of Midwest hog production. The standards set by the largest hog producers now suggest that some fifty producers could account for all the hogs needed in the United States.” The report constitution does not allow counties to determine whether or not corporations can own and operate farms in their counties \(see says Jeanne Gramstorff, a wheat and milo farmer and leader of ACCORD. Gramstorff, a fiery opponent of the pork industry, jokingly refers to herself as one of the “old ladies in tennis shoes.” During my visit to Perryton, Gramstorff offered to bring a few local residents together at the Perryton Public Library to talk about the pork industry. When I arrived at the library, thirty-two people were waiting to talk to me. Gramstorff, a diminutive widow with a defiant twinkle in her eye, looked at me and said, “We would have had more, but a lot of them had to work.” Gramstorff and the other opponents of the pork industry who came to the library say that State Senator Teel Bivins, the Amarillo Republican, will not listen to their complaints about the pork industry. Nor will he listen to their requests for a law that would allow them to vote on the pork industry in the same way that Kansans have done. Gramstorff blames Bivins for many of the problems she and other Ochiltree County residents are having with the pork industry because it was Bivins who pushed for the 1995 changes to the rules governing CAFOs. THE STINK ABOUT STINK “If the pigs didn’t stink, would there be all this opposition?” That rhetorical question was asked last month by an industry official making the case for corporate hog farms. And the short answer: probably not. Water pollution issues are a serious problem for CAFOs. Manure spills in Missouri, North Carolina, and other states have resulted in huge fish kills. Chicken and pork feedlots have been implicated in the outbreak of the deadly Pfiesteria bacteria in the Chesapeake Bay. But while water pollution is a major concern, odor problems continue to be the pork industry’s Achilles’ hamstring. Several studies have shown that odors can be reduced through the use of better manure treatment methods. A 1995 study on the “THE HOG INDUSTRY HELPED SAVE PERRYTON ECONOMICALLY. ON BALANCE, IF THE ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS ARE ADEQUATELY \(written by Gary Ben ADDRESSED, THE HOG INDUSTRY jamin, a vice president BENEFITS US MORE THAN IT HURTS.” says, “As incredible as it may seem, the number of U.S. farms with hogs shrinks by one-third every five years.” The integration of the industry has been spurred by GATT and NAFTA. Last year, the Cleveland Plain Dealer quoted Al Tank, a lobbyist for the National Pork Producers Council: “The U.S. pork industry may have been the single largest beneficiary of the trade agreements.” Don Clift of Texas Farm agrees that the removal of trade barriers has been a boon to the industry. He says that over the past two years, the amount of pork shipped overseas has increased by 45 percent, and at the same time, the value of the pork shipped overseas has increased by 75 percent. Opponents of the pork industry in and around Perryton didn’t have a say when trade agreements were negotiated. And although counties in other states are using referenda to bar corporate hog farms, there will be no popular vote on pigs in Ochiltree County. Despite the tradition. of populism in Texas agriculture, the state 12 THE TEXAS OBSERVER OCTOBER 10, 1997