For America’s pork producers, focusing on the principles of Earth Day is not a one day remembrance. It is a daily part of how they manage their farms. Yet, even with a long history of being good stewards of the environment, producers continue to seek ways to improve the WE CARE ethical principles that benefit their animals, their neighbors, their local community and consumers worldwide.
“To us, sustainability is the ability to endure,” said Randy Spronk, a farrow-to-finish pork producer from Edgerton, Minn., who serves on the National Pork Board’s Environmental Committee. “That’s why pork producers support the development of swine operations of all types and sizes that safeguard animal health and welfare, improve the food safety of pork and are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.”
Pork production contributes only one-third of one percent (0.33%) of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, every pound of pork produced in the United States today has a smaller carbon footprint than it used to have 20 years ago, due to improved production methods employed by producers over the years. Things such as:
- Improved feeding programs that carefully match swine diets to the nutrition needs of the pigs’ based on their sex, age and stage of growth ensures the pig’s health and welfare without overfeeding nutrients that end up in the manure.
- Using manure as a natural fertilizing agent to replace or offset the use of commercial fertilizers that are made from petroleum products. This not only helps reduce the energy use associated with making the commercial fertilizers, but also helps build the carbon content and moisture-holding capacity of soils.
- Improved manure management and application practices, such as following carefully developed manure management plans that match the manure nutrient applied to the nutrient needs of the crops to be grown. Also, injection or incorporation of the manure nutrients at the time of application, not only ensures getting the full fertilizer value of the manure, but guards against runoff that could impact water quality.
- Controlling odor. Windbreaks are an important feature of many swine farms, because the trees help filter the air and reduce the potential transfer of odor from the farm.