Whether you prefer crisp bacon, salty ham, a tender pork chop, or juicy sausage, pork is a prized product in the U.S. In fact, it’s the country’s most widely eaten meat.
To keep up with demand and the growing notion of consumers wanting to know more about where their food comes from, America’s pork farmers have dedicated themselves to producing a safe, humanely raised, high-quality product.
“Pork producers recognize that today’s consumers are asking more questions about where their food comes from and how it’s raised,” says Cindy Cunningham, assistant vice president of communications for the National Pork Board. “That’s why we welcome every chance we get to talk to people about modern pork production.”
To keep improving hog operations, modern pig farming includes the latest technological advancements in areas of reproduction, disease control, and electronic identification. These management improvements not only benefit the hogs, but the environment as well by reducing the carbon footprint.
“Modern pork production facilities of all sizes provide animals with an environment designed especially for them to keep them safe, healthy, and comfortable,” Cunningham says. “This means they don’t get chilled in harsh winter weather or swelter during hot summers.”
C. Robert Dove, associate professor at the University of Georgia and state swine specialist, says that advanced technology improves animal wellness and delivers benefits to consumers.
“Any time we can raise a healthier, happier pig, the meat quality is theoretically better since the pig has been under less stress as it’s growing,” he says. He adds that for the farmer, benefits of technological advancements include efficiencies gained in spreading overhead costs out over a larger number of pigs, therefore, allowing them to reinvest in their farms, people, and more new technologies. For example, Dove mentions that deep uterine artificial insemination is one of the biggest technological advancements in the hog industry, which has shown to improve litter size. It’s a win-win situation.
Cunningham says the majority of pork producers work under the We Care Initiative, which is a joint effort of the Pork Checkoff through the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council. This helps farmers demonstrate their accountability to established ethical principles. They include producing safe food, safeguarding natural resources, protecting and promoting animal well being, and protecting public health.
North Carolina is one of the prominent swine production states, and ranks 4th in the nation for swine production. Other top states include, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Indiana. The industry contributes about $9 billion to North Carolina’s economy annually and employs more than 46,000 people. Nationwide, more than 60,000 pork producers market over 115 million hogs annually, and the industry supports approximately 550,000 jobs.
Of those 60,000 hog producers, most of them were more likely to consider farming their primary occupation than other types of farmers, often doing so on multi-generational farms. To help with the costs of taking over a family swine operation, AgAmerica Lending offers custom swine farm loans. With correspondent lenders like Cameron Flowers, who operates in the Carolinas and Virginia, farmers have a face to put with their loan, and committed customer service whenever they may need it.