Modern Farms Balance Efficiency with Responsibility

by 5m Editor
4 August 2008, at 10:31am

INDIANA - It’s no secret that the farms of today are significantly different from those of generations past.

Dr. Jeff Harker
Dr. Jeff Harker’s veterinarian practice is dedicated solely to swine.

Today’s farmers depend on technology such as GPS, odor filtration systems and computer programs to efficiently and safely produce food to feed the world’s growing population says a feature in the Indy Star. But the picture of modern farming sometimes makes those outside of agriculture uneasy.

The changing face of livestock facilities Dr. Jeff Harker is a veterinarian who grew up on a hog, cattle and grain farm. He now works with his father in a practice dedicated solely to swine and is president of Indiana Pork. He often talks to people who have concerns about modern livestock production facilities, particularly when it comes to the subject of where the animals are raised.

"We hear a lot of concern from the public about pigs being raised indoors, and I can certainly understand where that concern comes from," Harker said.

"Advancements in farming have helped us figure out how to raise our animals more efficiently and safely. Today’s pigs are raised in environmentally controlled buildings where they do not face rain, snow, burning summer heat or frigid winter temperatures. This helps us improve animal health, as the pigs face fewer risks from inclement weather and other environmental factors."

Accommodating demands of a growing population

"Our role is to provide food that's healthy, safe and affordable"
Dr. Jeff Harker

Space is an additional issue for livestock farmers.

"There is simply not enough outdoor acreage to support raising the number of animals we need to feed a growing population," Harker said.

To meet market demand, farmers have been forced to re-evaluate and adjust their business structures to remain competitive in a growing market, and raising pigs indoors is an example of just such an adjustment.

"Our role is to provide food that’s healthy, safe and affordable, but we must do so in a way that is morally and environmentally responsible," Harker said. "Our farmers know they couldn’t make a living without raising their animals using modern indoor facilities, and they truly have a respect for the vital resources they provide."

5m Editor