SPRINGDALE, ARK. — During the next 10 weeks, Tyson Foods’ Pork Group is reducing its sow herd by 20,000 head, leaving an inventory of 50,000 sows. This reduction involves selling five company-owned hog farms in Benton and Washington Counties in Arkansas, and McDonald County in Missouri. It also includes eliminating 76 jobs in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Employees affected by this move have been notified and are being encouraged to apply for other job openings within the company, according to the company.

In explaining this move to MEATPOULTRY.com, company spokesman Gary Mickelson said: "As part of efforts to effectively manage our live-hog business, the Tyson Pork Group is making some changes. The Tyson subsidiary, which is primarily based in Arkansas and Oklahoma, produces finished hogs, feeder pigs and weaned pigs for sale to pork processors and finishers. However, the sale of feeder and weaned pigs has slowed because of unfavorable economic conditions, such as high grain costs, lack of available capital and a reduction in pork demand.

"While this is a difficult process, we believe it's necessary as we navigate through the challenging conditions facing the pork industry," he added.

Mr. Mickelson said Tyson’s equity ownership of live-hog operations through the Pork Group represents less than 1% of the total number of hogs processed by the company. Tyson owns and operates four pork processing plants in Iowa, one in Nebraska and one in Indiana. The company buys hogs for these plants from independent pork operations of all sizes.