Economics of hog farms and supply chains

February 7, 2023
Charles River Associates pig farm indoor pens

In this episode of the CRA Sessions Podcast, Michelle Burtis talks with Thomas Hubbard about one of his recent client engagements that dealt with hog farms, supply chains, vertical integration, and more.

Tom was contacted by the plaintiff lawyers in the litigation and worked with the lawyers for several years. His expertise as an economist helped the lawyers frame some of the legal and economic issues in the case.

The litigation was between some property owners in North Carolina and a large food company owned by a Chinese conglomerate that produces mostly pork products. The company contracts with hog farmers, who raise the hogs, according to its specifications, and the food company then produces and sells the consumer products. The plaintiffs in the litigation were neighbors to the hog farms. They owned their property before the hog farms were built near their homes.

The cases were brought on by “neighbors of a North Carolina industrial hog operation for smells and noise they said made living nearby unbearable,”1 and are the centerpiece of the recent nonfiction bestseller Wastelands. Dr. Hubbard submitted an expert report in January 2017. This report described how the large food company’s operations, in conjunction with those of hog growers, created economic value but potentially generated social harms as well.

There was also an award-winning documentary produced in 2022, The Smell of Money, chronicling the case and the neighbors of the North Carolina hog operation.

To hear more about Tom’s expert report and how the engagement unfolded, listen to the podcast episode.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Charles River Associates, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This podcast is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice. Copyright 2023 Charles River Associates

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