Academic journal article Agricultural Economics Review

Structural Changes of Hog Farming in China: Good or Bad? A Case Study of Wuxue City in Hubei Province

Academic journal article Agricultural Economics Review

Structural Changes of Hog Farming in China: Good or Bad? A Case Study of Wuxue City in Hubei Province

Article excerpt

0. Introduction

As industrialized farming has rapidly displaced production dominated by single family production(Geisler and Lyson, 1991), intensive hog farming becomes a major focal point of environmental management (Ribaudo and Agapoff, 2005). One view is that adverse environmental effects of hog production occur with structural changes of livestock operations (Bontems et ah, 2004) due to reduced opportunities for scope economy (Huang and Magleby, 2001; Metcalfe, 2002) and the separation of animal production from crop production (Thome, 2007; Gollehon et al., 2001); another opposing view is that intensive hog production is environmentally friendlier than small farms because they can afford technologically advanced waste management systems (Vukina, 2003). Gaps exist in the understanding of the effects of hog operations on environment (Meyer, 2000). More importantly, little is known about actual manure management practices of small farms (Poe et al., 2002). It is unclear whether hog industrialization will improve or degrade environmental quality.

Hog production is regarded as a means to improve farm household incomes in China. Reflecting structural changes elsewhere in the world, China's hog industry has undergone a shift from family farming system to large-scale production units as a response of government intervention, technology advancement, favorable business climates (Gillespie et ah, 1995), changing environmental liability and consumer preferences (Reimer, 2006). Many commercialized hog operations are spreading out in the peri-urban areas of big cities in China (Huaitalla et ah, 2010; Somwaru et al, 2003), hog production has become the main contributor of environmental degradation because more than 90% of livestock farms have no sewage treatment facilities (Zhu et ah, 2005), this situation poses a urgent demand on the examination of the impacts of structural changes of hog fanning on economy and environment.

In China, few previous studies focus on production efficiency of hog farming, failing to provide highlights on the relationship of alternative production practices with environmental quality and economic efficiency. Understanding the driving forces against structural changes of hog farming are urgently needed for government policy design to encourage farmers' voluntary conservation activities while pursuing economic efficiency (Horan et ah, 1999). What is the exact impact of structural changes of hog farms on environment? Do hog producers benefit from the structural changes of hog production? If yes, how to facilitate the evolving process of structural changes? Based on field surveyed data, by examining how hog production practices of hog farms change with varying farm sizes, this paper aims to clarify the impact of structural changes of hog farms on environment and economic wellbeing of hog producers.

1. Study area and date collection

1.1 The structural change of Chinaos hog sector

Chinese government's priority for food security has led to the commitment of considerable resources to agricultural research, which has produced some promising new options for feeds, fish species, and farming practices. Technology advancement and favorable hog price (Gillespie et ah, 1995) have facilitated fast growth of hog production in China. As a result, among nine countries contributing more than 50% of the world's total slaughter, China ranked the first and the volume of slaughtered fattened hogs accounted for 46.4% of that in the whole World in 2008 (See Table 1).

In response to government support, favorable business climates (Gillespie et al., 1995), changing environmental liability and consumer preferences (Reimer, 2006), since 2002 China's hog sector has undergone dramatic structural changes with an increase in large commercialized farms, hog operations with more than 50 animal units jumped from 165,982,000 in 2002 to 479,736,400 in 2008 at an annual average rate of 19.35%; the volume from large hog operations increased by about 65. …

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