It is regrettable that one of our longstanding hog farming partners, Goldsboro Milling, the parent company of Maxwell Foods, who has been a valuable part of our supply chain for many years, is taking legal action against us for what is fundamentally a commodity market issue of low livestock prices, from which we have also suffered. The allegations by Maxwell Foods are not true, and we will respond to the lawsuit accordingly.
The hog production industry has been challenged for some time and conditions have worsened amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of well documented issues have negatively impacted the hog production industry over the last several years. These include hog farm nuisance litigation, which we have repeatedly described as an existential threat to farmers and agriculture; lengthy U.S. trade disputes with several large export partners; and the ongoing and unprecedented pandemic, to name a few. Maxwell has openly acknowledged these factors and, consequently, divested approximately half its sows in the past year.
These macroeconomic factors have caused financial duress for many hog farmers, including Smithfield. As the largest U.S. hog producer, our exposure to the commodity markets outstrips all other domestic producers and we have not been immune to deflationary pressures.