- Associated Press - Sunday, November 23, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Researchers say environmental regulations have slowed the growth of large hog farms and helped some smaller ones survive.

Two agricultural economists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln looked at how environmental regulations have shaped the industry in the top ten hog-producing states.

A number of federal and state laws allow small hog farms with fewer than 2,500 animals to be exempt from rules that require manure storage plans and permits.

Also, zoning restrictions won’t allow large hog farms in many locations where small hog farms can operate.

One of the researchers, Azzeddine Azzam, said the smaller hog farms benefit by not having the expenses of all those restrictions.

“For regulators who are concerned about both environmental quality and the protection of small family farms, environmental regulation does not seem to adversely affect the viability of such operations,” Azzam and the other researchers wrote.

Azzam and Karina Schoengold both work at UNL, and a third author, Gibson Nene of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, helped with the article.

The researchers said the number of small hog farms has declined 61 percent between 1976 and 2005, but without those kind of rules, the decline would have been greater.

The number of large hog farms jumped 95 percent over the same period. The researchers said the increase would have likely been larger without the environmental regulations.

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