Iowa hog farmers take pride in industry improvements

Iowa hog farmers take pride in industry improvements

Posted Oct. 1, 2012

Years of continuous improvement highlighted through National Pork Month

October is a time steeped in tradition for swine farmers. Historically, it was the time of year when pigs were just the right size to go to market. Decades later, October is still recognized as National Pork Month.


Hog farmers and industry leaders around the country, including Iowa Pork Producers Association President Bill Tentinger from Le Mars, are using October Pork Month to remind consumers of all the great things pork has to offer.


“Pork is a versatile and nutritious protein that can be used in thousands of recipes, many of which can be found,” Tentinger said. “Pork loin is low in sodium and ounce for ounce as lean as skinless chicken breast.”


If you didn’t already know, the cooking temperature for pork has been lowered to 145° with a three minute rest period. This has opened the eyes and taste buds of consumers to the possibilities of pork.


Providing the world’s most widely consumed meat takes hard work and dedication from farmers. That dedication takes center stage in the We Caresminitiative and the six ethical principles that it encompasses. The We Care initiative is an affirmation of farmers’ dedication to animal well-being; producing safe food; protecting public health as well as the environment and natural resources; keeping workers safe; and contributing to a better quality of life in their surrounding communities.


“Farmers recognize that to be successful in all aspects of what they do, they not only have to be committed to doing the right thing but we have to be sustainable as well,” said Tentinger.


Research comparing production benchmarks from 1959-2009 shows just how much more sustainable the industry has become. Today, farmers can produce 1,000 pounds of pork with five pigs, an amount that required eight pigs in 1959. There also has been a 35 percent drop in pork’s carbon footprint, a 41 percent decrease in water usage and a 78 percent reduction in land needed to produce a pound of pork in that same timeframe.*


More than 30 million pigs were raised in Iowa last year on 8,300 farms throughout the state. Though size and type of farm varies, the value of the pigs produced in Iowa was nearly $5 billion.


“I am proud of the strides the industry has made in sustainability and social responsibility while contributing to a better quality of life for ourselves and those around us,” Tentinger added.


*Source:A 50-Year Comparison of the Carbon Footprint and Resource Use of the US Swine Herd: 1959 – 2009, Garth Boyd