The National Pork Board has agreed to donate $1 million to the proposed Fair Oaks Pig Adventure Center in Indiana, with a second $1 million donation contingent on private fund-raising of $7.6 million. The board vote occurred at its meeting prior to the start of the National Pork Industry Forum in Denver, March 1-3.
The goal of the farm-focused project is to allow consumers to see firsthand the way pigs are being raised in a modern barn. The project is to be built as part of the existing Fair Oaks Dairy Education Center on land adjacent to I-65 about an hour from downtown Chicago. Plans call for a working 2,400-head sow farm built to allow visitors to view all aspects of production from an enclosed walkway above, with a separate education center equipped with exhibits and other educational tools.
Estimated total cost of the farm project is $9.6 million. Belstra Milling, an Indiana pork producer and one of the major supporters of the project, has said it will assume all costs for the working sow barn. Private funds are being sought for the visitor and education features.
Funds for the National Pork Board's donation will come from the Pork Checkoff, which is used for promotion, research and consumer information. Board members stipulated that its donation be used for the farm education center part of the project, keeping with its mission.
Michael Platt, executive director of the Indiana Pork Producer Association and another major supporter of the project, said future plans call for making the sow barn the focal point of a distance-learning project that would allow students from around the country who have little access to farms to learn about modern food production. Platt said supporters are talking to potential funders of the distance-learning effort. The Indiana pork organization has committed $250,000 toward the center. Platt said construction of the sow barn is scheduled to begin this spring.
For more information, contact Mike Wegner at MWegner@pork.org or at (515) 223-2638.