On Saturday I gave a talk to 500 farmers entitled, "How Did This All Happen?" I didn't choose the title, but it's a good question for almost anything.
In this case, the audience was made up of pork producers in the Murphy-Brown (Smithfield Foods) contract hog growing program, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. I was the first to write about the program all those years ago, back when contract feeding in Iowa was rare and highly controversial.
The headline for the story in Successful Farming (the first part is below) has haunted Conley Nelson, who still runs the program today, since it was published. He still gets teased for having the "toughest" job.
Rick McCormick, shown at left in his barn, continues to feed hogs for Murphy. The initial fears people had that the barns wouldn't survive 10 years in Iowa winters have not held true.
Contract feeding is now common across the Midwest. It's not a perfect system for everyone, but it has proven its worth to thousands of farmers.
It's not that tough of a job now, Conley. Relax.