50-Year Study Shows Progress

A new study finds that while pig farms of the 1950s may be remembered as idyllic, they were not as sustainable as those of today. The study shows that during the last 50 years there has been a 35 percent decrease in carbon footprint, a 41 percent reduction in water usage and a 78 percent drop in land needed to produce a pound of pork. Garth Boyd, an environmental researcher and former university professor, led the study.

Much of the gains in efficiency can be attributed to the continuous improvements farmers have made over the years in both crop production and in the care they give their animals through better nutrition, health and overall management. This appears to be reflected in the study's findings that showed a 29 percent increase in hogs marketed compared to 50 years ago with a breeding herd that is 39 percent smaller. Feed efficiency, a major factor that affects the land required for growing feedstuffs, has improved by 33 percent during this time frame.

Everett Forkner, a pork producer from Richards, Missouri, and immediate past-president of the National Pork Board, says he is – not really surprised by this data. He too has evaluated and implemented new technologies. As a pork producer, Forkner adds that – today's competitive market demands that we do even more to improve how we produce pork. He is confident the challenge will be met. Doing it with more innovations, more Checkoff-funded research and continued dedication to the We CareSM initiative's set of ethical principles

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