|By NANCY VORIS
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Gov. Mitch Daniels campaigned on a promise to double the state’s pork production.
Last week, Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Andy Miller told Midwest Pork Conference attendees that the Governor’s strategies are working.
“Indiana is quickly becoming the place where new pork production is welcomed,” Miller said. “We’re becoming the shining star in the pork industry.”
Michael Dunn of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) provided numbers to back up Miller’s claim. Statistics included:
•Regulated swine farms decreased steadily from 2,325 in January 2001 to 1,691 in January of this year. But from January to August, the number rose to 1,709
•The number of swine on regulated farms remained constant or decreased until this year, when it rose from 4,075,796 in January to 4,393,000 in August
•Topping the list of regulated swine farms per county are Carroll, 114; Dubois, 104; Wabash, 102; Davies, 86; and Clinton, 82
•The largest construction permit granted this year was for a 20,000-head finishing complex in Martin County
•Construction applications issued by IDEM rose from 106 in 2005 to 114 in 2006
“People are becoming more confident with the (permitting) process,” Dunn said.
One reason for the growth is because pork is the fastest growing meat export in the United States, Miller said, brought on by Japan’s and Korea’s reluctance to buy beef the past few years.
“Indiana is a good place to expand pork production,” he said, in part because of the proximity of three pork processors. “Now they know they’ll have hogs to process.
Miller said one of the biggest challenges to the state’s pork industry is separating facts from public perception. Bigger operations are perceived to be worse for the economy, worse for the environment and worse for the animal.
“But we have nothing to hide. Research shows that large operations can be good for the economy, the environment and the animal,” he said. “The largest buildings today rarely stink and farmers care for their animals.”
The ISDA encourages producers to open the farm gates and welcome the public at every opportunity for educational purposes.
Miller commended Fair Oaks Dairy in northern Indiana for their visitors’ center in helping the public separate fact and perception.
A video, Faces of Indiana Agriculture, helps tell the story and is available for purchase by calling Deb Abbott at the ISDA at 232-8767.
Miller also talked about the Certified Livestock Producer Program, a voluntary program for larger farms that are excelling in representing Indiana agriculture. “This allows us to put a blue ribbon on our best producers,” he said.
Twenty farms are currently part of the pilot program.
The ISDA is working to improve communication with other agricultural groups to coordinate Indiana’s ag story and to develop “more dialog that helps paint a good story.” He encourages farmers and groups to speak at local meetings of chambers of commerce, civic organizations and government.
“We’re on a trajectory to grow this state’s agriculture in ways we didn’t dream about 18 months ago,” Miller said.
This farm news was published in the Sept. 13, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.