Table 1 reflects the estimated number of independent pork operations by size, and their share of U.S. hog marketings. Producers marketing less than 1,000 head were not surveyed directly. The number of operations and marketings were estimated from USDA reports.

The 20 largest firms marketed 33.3 million hogs in 2000, nearly 35 percent of the U.S. domestic hog slaughter, which totaled 95.9 million head. Combined with the 136 operations in the 50,000-to-499,999 category, these 156 firms produced slightly more than half of all market hogs last year. Producers marketing at least 5,000 hogs annually account for about 80 percent of the total. The amount raised on larger farms has increased since 1997, our last survey, when the 145 largest firms produced 37 percent of the hogs and those raising more then 5,000 head a year had 63 percent of the total. Table 3 compares changes in the number of farms and production by size. In general, the categories representing producers marketing less than 5,000 head a year are losing farms and production. Meanwhile, categories representing more than 5,000 head are gaining.

Note that the United States marketed approximately 19 million more hogs in 2000 than in 1997, when numbers were recovering from high priced corn of 1996. Most of the growth came from the largest size class, which has increased total marketings by more than 60 percent since 1997. However, the 10,000-49,999 class also increased marketings by 37 percent during that time.