Allison Zabel
Allison Zabel

Today, the average U.S. farmer feeds 155 people. In 1960, a farmer fed just 26 people. Agriculture has made much advancement with key integral innovations over the years. With the population constantly growing, it is essential for agriculture and all its sectors to continually produce increase production.

The success for the pork industry is about where it started and where it’s headed. The innovations and advancements that have put the industry where it is today are based on outstanding accomplishments. The progression needed to get past the obstacles set for the future will be challenging and tough, but new goals are attainable.

The pork industry has made phenomenal advancements in the past 50 years. Fifty years ago, pigs carried significantly more fat. Market pigs today, which are 280-300 pounds, would be considered extremely obese if improvements in backfat had not been made. Swine genetics, nutrition, and improved housing led to the propensity of fast-growing, lean pigs. Modern pigs have 75 percent less fat than pigs produced in the 1950s, and this change has been based on consumer demand for high quality, lean pork. Backfat has decreased from 2.86 to 0.75 inches. The actual pig isn’t the only change seen in the pork industry. The resources needed to grow pigs also have significantly changed in the last 50 years:

  • Number of U.S. hogs marketed has increased 29 percent
  • The national breeding herd has decreased by 39 percent
  • Two times the carcass weight produced/sow/per
  • Feed efficiency increased 33 percent per pound of carcass weight
  • Water use reduced 41 percent per pound carcass weight
  • Total land use for pork production is down 59 percent
  • Carbon footprint of U.S. pork production is reduced by 35 percent per pound of carcass weight

By 2050, the world population will be approximately 10 billion people. The pork industry will have to double its production. This is not an easy feat for any industry in agriculture.

While the progress noted above is phenomenal, activists remain intent on attacking animal agriculture, and government policies and laws continue to increase. Doubling production could be troublesome.