North Carolina's hog and pork processing industry continues to be an economic powerhouse, generating more than $10 billion in economic output for the state, according to a new economic impact report prepared by North Carolina State University.
The report shows that the pork production and processing categories directly contribute $5.9 billion in sales and provide 19,298 jobs. For every job in pork production, an estimated 2.2 additional jobs are created, meaning the industry supports more than 44,000 total jobs in North Carolina.
"We are proud to play such a significant role in supporting the state's agricultural economy, especially in our rural communities," says Everett Johnson, president of the North Carolina Pork Council and a hog farmer in Surry County. "This comprehensive economic analysis shows that each of our farms contributes greatly to the local economy, not only through taxes, but also by supporting local equipment and car dealers, restaurants, churches, charities, stores and more. And we are doing this despite a 22-year moratorium on building new pig farms."
"We found that pig production and pig slaughter and processing make critical contributions to the economies of rural counties and surrounding counties in North Carolina," says Kelly Zering, a professor at NC State's Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics, who led the development of the study.
While the pork industry supports nearly every county, the study focused on the impact from the state's four largest hog producing counties — Duplin, Sampson, Bladen and Wayne — which combine to contribute more than $7.1 billion to the state's economy and support nearly 19,000 jobs.
- Bladen County: $2.54 billion, 7,500 jobs. Bladen County is home to the world's largest pork processing plant. The pork industry has an estimated economic impact of $2.54 billion and accounts for about 7,500 jobs in Bladen County. That accounts for 44% of the county's total employment.
- Sampson County: $1.48 billion, 6,100 jobs. Sampson County is the state's top agriculture county. It ranks #2 in hog production and is home to second largest pork processing plant in the state. The pork industry has an estimated economic impact of $1.48 billion and accounts for about 6,100 jobs, representing nearly 25% of the county's employment.
- Duplin County: $800 million, 4,000+ jobs. Duplin County is the state's largest hog producing county and ranks #2 in agriculture. The pork industry adds almost $800 million to the Duplin County economy and supports more than 4,000 jobs.
- Wayne County: $230 million, 1,300+ jobs. Wayne County ranks 4th among the state's largest hog producing counties. The pork industry has an estimated economic impact of $230 million and supports more than 1,300 jobs in the county.
The report's figures account for pig production and slaughtering, but do not take into account the market for value-added processing, such as sausage, ham and bacon production, or the rendering sector. While the pork industry accounts for a substantial share of these two sectors, Zering noted that there was insufficient data to document the industry's exact share of these markets.