There was a time, not that long ago, when nearly every farm in our neighborhood raised pigs. We all had a few sows and either sold feeder pigs or finished out what we raised. This was only 15 years ago. Times have changed. It’s tough these days to be raising pigs, but the fact is, there are great opportunities down the road.
At the Nebraska Pork Producers Association Pork Industry Day in Norfolk last week, every producer I talked with was concerned deeply about PED virus. Mike Brumm, who served as a University of Nebraska Extension swine specialist for many years and now owns his own swine consultant business in Minnesota, spent much of his presentation talking about the extent of PED virus, how to prevent it and how it will impact future markets.
Swine producers have faced these kinds of disease issues before. Producers of all sizes, systems and production facilities have faced numerous challenges, including poor market prices and skyrocketing input and feed costs, over the past two decades.
Neighboring states have grown rapidly in swine production, while Nebraska has lost producers and production has been rather stagnant. Still, if you listened to UNL IANR Harlan Vice Chancellor, Ronnie Green at that meeting, you had to come home with a positive feeling that production in the state has opportunities for growth and that swine production will remain an important industry in our state for years to come.
Producers are cautiously optimistic about future markets and production, feeling that they will overcome current disease issues and other challenges they face moving forward. The young mentors class is enthusiastic about the future of pork production in the state, and producers themselves see the opportunities and hope to capitalize by encouraging more young people to raise pigs, to feed our substantial grain resources to their pigs in the state and to build equity in the land by adding more livestock production of all kinds to existing operations.
It doesn’t happen overnight, and producers won’t be able to do it alone. They will need support from UNL, from private industry, communities and counties, local citizens and local agencies to develop production systems that are compatible with community expectations and yet, profitable for producers, and economically advantageous for the area. This can be done and it is being done. I got the feeling from the swine producers at the state meeting that if they all put their heads together and work in partnership and in cooperation with other smart folks, the future could look very bright for those wishing to raise pigs in Nebraska.
Here is this week’s discussion question. Do you now, of have you ever raised pigs on your farm? You can share your thoughts here.
Learn more about the NPPA Pork Industry Day and awards at Nebraska Farmer online, or follow us on Twitter at Husker Home Place.