National Hog Farmer

Niman Ranch expands its U.S. family farmer network and processing to Pennsylvania

Sustainable, humane livestock leader extends its geographic reach, establishes access through regional food sheds

ALAMEDA, Calif. (Oct. 21, 2011) — The California-founded Niman Ranch today announced the expansion of its sustainable hog production with new farmers and a processing facility in the northeast. The leader in humane livestock practices now utilizing a third party processing facility in Pennsylvania allowing Niman Ranch to grow its farmer network in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Northern Virginia and New York. By the end of the year, 20 new hog farmers, who have all achieved the strict Niman Ranch protocols, will be added to its existing network of more than 675 independent U.S. family farmers and ranchers.

At Niman Ranch humane animal treatment is a top priority and a foundation on which the company was built and decisions are made. Since adding pork to the Niman Ranch line of never-ever natural products in 1995, hog operations are centered in the Midwest with a network of family farmers committed to raising hogs in a humane, old-fashioned and traditional way in which the animals are allowed to demonstrate their natural behaviors. Niman Ranch began exploring opportunities in 2010 to expand its network east to help more family hog farms have a financially sustainable future.

The first challenge in expansion was finding local farmers committed to maintaining Niman Ranch’s strict protocols including raising hogs outdoors or in deeply bedded pens, maintenance of a vegetarian diet and utilizing genetics well suited to an outdoor environment and exceptional mothering abilities. The second challenge was locating a local processing facility in close proximity to the hog farmers which implements humane harvesting procedures. Niman Ranch is partnering with a facility which, like their current Iowa facility, utilizes the low stress- carbon dioxide stunning system, which is considered the preferred method according to animal welfare standards versus electrical stunning in hog harvesting.

“It took well over a year to find hog farmers in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Northern Virginia and New York to raise animals to Niman Ranch’s strict standards and to locate a processing facility that treated the animals humanely,” states Jeff Swain, Niman Ranch chief executive officer, who has been traveling throughout the northeast for more than two years meeting personally with farm families. “We look forward to adding more family farmers to the east coast Niman Ranch network.”

“As a chef in New York City to be able to call Niman Ranch pork local is icing on the cake,” states Adam Longworth chef de cuisine at Gotham Bar and Grill. “Not only can we be proud to serve a humanely raised, sustainable, quality product but now we can know that we are doing this while reducing our carbon footprint and supporting local farmers.”

Having a network in the Eastern U.S. provides farmers committed to sustainable hog farming practices a partner in Niman Ranch to sell and distribute their pork. In an effort to reduce the overall carbon footprint and to provide sustainable choices within the regional food shed Niman Ranch plans to distribute all pork grown in Penn. to customers in the East Coast distribution network beginning this week.