How Smithfield Foods partnered with Roeslein Alternative Energy to save one of the largest hog farms in the U.S.

By Betsy Freese, Successful Farming at

The history of the former Premium Standard Farms (PSF) hog operation in northern Missouri is as tortured as any in the modern swine industry. (See the 30-year time line at the bottom of this story for details.)

When Smithfield Foods bought the formerly bankrupt 221,000-sow complex in 2006, PSF was the second-largest pork producer in the U.S. (behind Smithfield). It was bogged down in nuisance lawsuits, the barns were in disrepair, and pig performance was poor.

Keeping the operation running was a struggle for several years after the purchase. One industry analyst told Successful Farming magazine in 2011, “I advised them to get a bunch of bulldozers and push it in a hole and walk away. That would be cheaper than feeding it.”

Smithfield stuck with the business, now called Smithfield Hog Production - Missouri, bringing in a new general manager, Michael Rainwater, more than six years ago and infusing substantial capital to turn the operation around.