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Friday, May 27, 2016

Time to learn about swine

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

One of the pleasures I get to do as an Extension Educator is to educate youth and adults about quality assurance associated with livestock production. Primarily, this is done through programs about animal welfare and animal care such as the Pork Quality Assurance program offered to both adults and youth. Through this program, individuals are exposed to the concept of the Food Supply Continuum, proper needle use procedures, and the idea of withdrawal time.

The Food Supply Continuum allows them to realize that what they do at home, when transporting their animal, and even when they are cooking meat, affects the food that their loved ones consume. This is because anyone who raises even one hog at home is part of the pork industry.

One of the main reasons the pork industry is so important to Hoosiers is that it is valued at roughly $401,500. It is estimated that Indiana has 3,650 hogs. Nationally, Indiana ranked fifth in number of hogs in 2007 (most recent National Ag Statistic Service survey).

There are several myths that focus on pork production. One is that family farms have overwhelmingly been taken over by large corporate conglomerates, ultimately damaging the pork industry and rural Indiana. Truthfully, there has been a reduction in the number of farms in Indiana over the years. Those who have remained in pork production or who have entered into it recently have consolidated into large farms with large numbers of animals. Today, farmers have to be more efficient to compete in a global economy. Overall though, agriculture does remain a family business in Indiana.

There are individuals who say that pork producers and others in the livestock industry abuse their animals and place profits over the welfare of the animals in their care. However, many know that this statement is incorrect. Livestock producers have to balance consumer demand for nutritious food products with the welfare of animals. Pork producers have a moral obligation to provide for their animals and realize that the welfare of their animals directly affects their livelihood. Thus farmers work hard to ensure their animals are treated well.

Some believe that pork products are easily susceptible to many foodborne diseases and thus are not as safe as other food products. Actually food safety is a top priority for Indiana's livestock producers.

Pork producers work hard to ensure that customers receive high-quality, affordable food products. Thus, every aspect of livestock care is regulated by state and national organizations and government agencies. Ultimately, all meat products are rigorously and repeatedly inspected. Any products that do not meet the highest standards are immediately removed from the supply to ensure they never reach the marketplace.

The pork industry, like many Indiana industries, has to overcome myths, bad publicity and consumer ideals to thrive. One way that everyone can help those involved with any agriculture industry is by taking a moment and realize all the hard work and dedication that those involved actually put forth to make sure the product they are producing is healthy and safe for us to consume.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay Co. or 829-5020 in Owen Co. or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu. Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

*July 14--Putnam Co. Master Gardeners' Garden Tour, Greencastle, 10-4, Cost $6, Contact 765-653-8411 to register and find out the locations,

*July 14--Basics of Home Landscape Design for Purdue Master Gardeners, West Lafayette, 9-5, Contact 765-494-4713 to register and find out about the cost,

* July 14-21--Clay County 4-H Fair, and

* July 15-21--Owen County 4-H Fair.