Pork’s role in Hoosier economics

US - For decades, pork has played an important role in Indiana’s economy — from helping fund schools to providing jobs — and its impact could grow in coming years.
calendar icon 6 August 2007
clock icon 3 minute read
“Indiana is fortunate to have leaders who are vocal proponents of the pork industry. That makes Indiana stand out.,” said Mike Platt, executive director of Indiana Pork.

Each year, the state’s pork producers kick in $8 million in state and local taxes. At the same time, they’re spending more than $250 million on feeding and maintaining their livestock — money that stays in Indiana.

Recycling at its best
“Geographically, corn, soybeans and hogs fit together,” Platt said. “Hogs eat corn and soybeans, and fertilizer from the hogs helps the corn grow. It’s a natural ecosystem.”

The local relationships don’t stop there. Pork producers also purchase goods and services from Indiana veterinarians, waste handlers and construction firms. Pork operations spend more than $465 million in local communities on construction and building operations and other capital investments, such as equipment.

That “circle of life” reality has helped the Indiana economy grow. And now, thanks to the support of Gov. Mitch Daniels, that growth could increase.

When elected, Daniels started a movement to reinvigorate several areas of Indiana’s economy, including pork production. The goal was set to increase pork production by the year 2025. By declaring it one of the strategic priorities, the Daniels Administration is helping to secure hog farming’s place in the state’s economic structure.

Four-legged money machine
“Agriculture is a big part of our economic past, present and future,” said Andy Miller, agriculture director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. “We want to double pork production, but only in an environmentally friendly way.”

In recent years, the number of farms has declined across the state, the result of consolidation that has been experienced in many other industries. Now, larger operations are bringing the capital, the expertise and the environmental management systems to raise many of the state’s 6 million hogs each year — a number that would satisfy the per capita pork consumption needs of over 25 million people.

All told, Indiana’s pork production ranks fifth in the United States, with Indiana farmers selling more than $770 million worth of hogs in 2006. Daniels’ plan of doubling pork production in 20 years would raise the state’s pork numbers to where they were in the late 1980s.

“Growth is happening, and it’s happening quickly,” Miller said. And keeping up with such growth is important for more than economic reasons.

“There’s a real disconnect for the general public and agriculture in general. Supporting the pork industry makes sense because we all want a safe, reliable and economical supply of meat,” said Platt said.

Source: Indystar.com
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