hog farm surrounded by trees National Hog Farmer

Not doing what’s right for pigs, people and planet can be costly

Trust the man in the mirror to tell you that you are raising pigs the right way.

If work was meant to be easy, it would not be called work. And being in business is tough and it keeps getting tougher and more expensive.

Pork producers want to do what’s right for pigs, people and the planet, and that is more than a catchy alliteration. It’s a mission statement that all producers should live by; guiding principles of how to run their family business.

Some practices to improve what producers are doing for the betterment of pigs, people and the planet are merely a tweak in management, or simply retraining of employees. Other methods, practices or strategies to improve the way you do business may require an investment of real dollars, but may in no way improve the production and performance of your herd.

Such is the case with the electrostatic fences that New Fashion Pork and Iowa Select Farms have installed on finishing sites to “knock down” odor emitting from their barns. As ISF CEO Noel Williams puts it, “These things are not required by state law. They’re not regulated by the federal government. And as much as I would like them to, as a production guy, make for a healthy environment in the barn or help the pigs grow better, but they don’t. But they do help us be good neighbors and responsible members of our rural communities and state. And we at Iowa Select are proud to do things that are the right thing to do.”

Estimates put the price tag for an electrostatic fence in the $4,000 to $5,000 range per barn, so the cost of being a good neighbor can be costly. That cost can be recouped if the system works effectively at reducing odors, and ultimately improves neighbor relations. Improving neighbor relations can go a long way in making everybody’s lives easier, and keeping squabbles out of the courtroom.

As we know, some neighbor relations can never be calmed, and such battles end up in the legal system, as is being seen played out in North Carolina courtrooms as nuisance cases are being heard. Andy Curliss, CEO of the North Carolina Pork Council, wrote a great blog about what one particular American pig farmer is up against in the world of nuisance lawsuits. As a lot of pork producers who have faced such lawsuits can attest, there just may be no way to make everybody happy. But that doesn’t mean that pork producers won’t continue to do what is right for pigs, people and the planet.

What often gets lost in all of these discussions and threats by the non-farming public is the fact that we hog farmers are the first to feel and smell the effects of the hog operation. Why would we pollute the air that we breathe? Why would we pollute the water that we drink? Why would we raise pigs in deplorable conditions?

The answer to each of these three questions is the same — we don’t do any of the above. But you already knew that, because you are doing what is right for pigs, people and the planet. Time will tell how all of these cases play out in front of judges and juries.

In the meantime, every producer needs to be a judge of themselves, and if each day they can unequivocally tell the man in the mirror that they are doing the best job that they possibly can in raising a wholesome, safe pork product that the world wants, then they can sleep at night knowing that they have done all that they can.

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