In December 1998, hog prices in Central Missouri nosedived to a record low of seven and a half cents per pound, far below the cost of production. The low prices, coupled with corporate overproduction and rapidly-growing concentration in the industry, drove 75 percent of Missouri hog farmers out of business during the 1990s. Those who remained in business saw their share of the retail food dollar drop to less than 20 percent.
The “Break-Thru Community Food Security Project” of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MRCC), conceived in 1997, was a direct response to a severe crisis in hog country, said project director Rhonda Perry. Funded by a three-year Community Food Projects grant and the Presbyterian Hunger Program, the project, which established Patchwork Family Farms, a rural livestock production and processing cooperative, reflected the urgent need for grassroots-based projects to create real economic development and food security in a very rural part of the state.