Farming Today for Tomorrow

For more than five decades, U.S. pork producers have been at the forefront of environmental sustainability, embracing advancements that have allowed them to do more with less. Thanks to these continuous on-farm advancements in nutrition, genetics and overall pig care, U.S. hog farmers remain committed to protecting the country’s air, land and water for generations to come. We are farming today for tomorrow.

Get to know today’s U.S. hog operations.

  • U.S. pork production is only responsible for .4% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.[1]
  • Over the past 50 years, while doubling the amount of pork produced from 12 billion pounds in 1960 to 24 billion pounds today, the U.S. pork industry now uses 76 percent less land, 25 percent less water and seven percent less energy to produce pigs. This has also resulted in a 7.7% smaller carbon footprint.[2]
  • Over the past 17 years, North Carolina hog farmers have significantly increased their feed efficiency, resulting in reductions of nutrient content in manure lagoons at farms by 35%-78% and ammonia level reductions of 22%-54%. The findings are likely to be replicated throughout the country.[3]

 

How Are Pork Producers Reducing Their Environmental Footprint?

Air

Hog farmers are always seeking ways to innovate and protect our natural resources. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, electricity production generates the second-largest greenhouse gas emissions in the country, primarily from burning fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. Instead of relying on conventional electricity, hog farmers are increasingly using renewable energy sources, including methane digesters, wind turbines, and solar panels, to power their facilities. Some farms are even carbon neutral or negative, meaning they’re able to return energy to the power grid.

Learn more about one producer’s efforts to capture hog manure from barns to generate natural gas.

Land

U.S. pork producers care deeply about environmental sustainability. Protecting our land and its precious resources is a core value of farmers.

For centuries, pork producers have practiced sustainable farming by capturing valuable nutrients from manure and recycling it as a natural fertilizer. Applying fertilizer benefits crops and soil by contributing

necessary nutrients that crops need to grow. In turn, crops like corn and soybeans are fed to the hogs, which starts the cycle over again.

To further aid in soil health, farmers also plant cover crops, which are used to cover the soil rather than for harvesting. Cover crops are primarily used to slow erosion, improve soil health, increase water availability, help control pests and diseases, and increase biodiversity.

Learn more about one producer’s closed-loop farming system that keeps the soil healthy without the need for additional fertilizers.

Water

Safeguarding our nation’s waterways is a key component of environmental sustainability. Hog farmers implement a variety of conservation practices designed around local conditions at the farm to ensure our nation’s lakes, rivers and streams remain protected. Some producers are using advanced precision technology to ensure their fields receive specific nutrient applications, removing the guesswork and the need for excess fertilizer. That ensures the nitrogen and nutrients stay where they are needed, nearby waters stay clean, and eliminates the need to outsource fertilizer.

Learn more about one producer’s precision farming efforts as a member of the Minnesota Agriculture Water Quality Certification Program.

The Future

Farmers are always thinking forward, how they can better utilize what they learned today for tomorrow. Pork producers remain committed to reducing their environmental footprint and ensuring our natural resources remain protected. The National Pork Producers Council has recently joined two leading agriculture-specific climate change coalitions: Farmers for a Sustainable Future and the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance. NPPC, in consultation with hog farmers across the nation, looks forward to helping guide the development of federal climate change policy, recognizing the significant role pork producers have and will continue to play in being part of the solution.

 

Together, we are Farming Today for Tomorrow.

 

[1]  https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-04/documents/us-ghg-inventory-2019-main-text.pdf
[2] https://www.pork.org/news/study-shows-u-s-pig-farmers-making-major-sustainability-progress/ 
[3] https://www.pork.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/18-205-HARPER-final-rpt.pdf