Pigs, Profits, and Rural Communities

Edited by Kendall M. Thu & E. Paul Durrenberger

Subjects: Rural Sociology
Series: SUNY series in Anthropological Studies of Contemporary Issues
Paperback : 9780791438886, 216 pages, July 1998
Hardcover : 9780791438879, 216 pages, July 1998

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Table of contents



Kendall M. Thu and E. Paul Durrenberger

Part I
Rural Community Consequences


1. Parma: A Story of Hog Hotels and Local Resistance

Laura B. DeLind

2. Inside the Industry from a Family Hog Farmer

Jim Braun with Pamela Braun

3. Meatpacking in Storm Lake, Iowa: A Community in Transition

Mark A. Grey

Part II
The Environment


4. The Impact of Industrial Swine Production on Human Health

Kelley J. Donham

5. Mood Changes Experienced by Persons Living Near Commercial Swine Operations

Susan S. Schiffman, Elizabeth A. Slattely-Miller, Mark S. Suggs, and Brevick G. Graham

6. Large-Scale Swine Production and Water Quality

Laura L. Jackson

Part III
Justice and Equity


7. An Iowa Farmer's Personal and Political Experience with Factory Hog Facilities

Blaine Nickles

8. Legal and Political Injustices of Industrial Swine Production in North Carolina

Robert Morgan

9. The Poultry Industry: A View of the Swine Industry's Future?

John M. Morrison

Part IV


10. Sustainable Agriculture, Rural Economic Development, and Large-Scale Swine Production

John E. Ikerd

11. An Alternative Model: Swine Producer Networks in Iowa

Randy Ziegenhorn

Conclusion: The Urbanization of Rural America

Walter Goldschmidt



Using the pork production industry as an example, this book illuminates the processes and consequences of agricultural industrialization for the social, economic, human, environmental, and political health of the rural United States.


This book illuminates the processes and consequences of agricultural industrialization, particularly within the swine production industry, for the social, economic, human, environmental, and political health of the rural United States. Contributors come from widely divergent backgrounds including a former U. S. senator, farmers, a veterinarian, a medical psychologist, an agricultural economist, a biological ecologist, a farm organization president, and anthropologists. Set within the theoretical framework of Walter Goldschmidt's research on the community consequences of industrialized food production, these contributions show that the increasing divergence of ownership has real human costs that continue to be ignored by economic developers and policymakers.

Kendall M. Thu is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Iowa. E. Paul Durrenberger is Professor of Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University.


"…combine[s] hard-hitting analysis with impressive attention to ethnographic detail. [It is] outspoken in [its] concern for contemporary rural life, especially in Iowa. [It includes] fearless voicing of calls for social justice. [It is] important, even crucial. " — H-Net Reviews (H-Rural)

"…this very well reasoned, documented, and deeply reflected upon collection of essays throws down a profoundly grave challenge to America, its changing lifeways, and especially to the massive desire for pig flesh that is met by the meat packing industry in general and the pig business in particular. " — ANTHROZOÖS

"Pigs, Profits, and Rural Communities addresses social impacts accompanying the transition from 'family' farm operated pork production systems to a more vertically integrated industrial model. Current economic and agriculture production literature often focus on the 'efficiencies' of the industrial model and give less attention to the consequences of this change for people, surrounding neighborhoods, and local communities. Pigs, Profits, and Rural Communities gives the reader a view from an alternative perspective. " — Steve Padgitt, Iowa State University

"This book challenges common assumptions of agricultural economics about efficiency and the pursuit of corporate profits, weaving together scholarly discussion, scientific data, and personal accounts of community problems associated with hog farming. The process of rural industrialization is occurring at a pace which is alarming, yet which has received little criticism from state legislators or others who might effectively prevent many of its costs to rural quality of life. It needs the kind of attention we find in this book. " — David Griffith, East Carolina University