Farming Heritage in America

Today’s pig farms combine the best of traditional farming practices with the benefits of modern technology. As a result, pig farmers, veterinarians and other agricultural experts have improved farming methods, helping to make the U.S. pork supply safer and more nutritious than at any time in our nation’s history.

“Farming is part of my family’s heritage. We do things right, and we take pride in what we do.”

Embracing Innovation

The spirit of pig farming in America reflects how farmers are resourceful and apply innovative ideas. Lard, or pig fat, was once considered as valuable a product as pork meat itself. Not only was it used in a way similar to how butter is used today but also to manufacture ammunition. Following World War II, the need for fat greatly diminished and a growing appetite emerged for leaner pork. Farmers responded by breeding pigs for leanness and improved meat quality to satisfy this demand. Over the years, advancements in food safety, sustainable farming methods and animal care demonstrate the willingness by pig farmers to adapt and evolve for the benefit of all.

The pork industry has responded to the consumer’s desire for lean pork products. Through efforts in feeding and management practices by pork farmers, seven of the most common cuts of pork have, on average, 16% less fat and 27% less saturated fat than 20 years ago.
The pork industry has responded to the consumer’s desire for lean pork products. Through efforts in feeding and management practices by pork farmers, seven of the most common cuts of pork have, on average, 16% less fat and 27% less saturated fat than 20 years ago.

Rural communities

Pig farming has long been an economic driver in America’s rural communities. As local businesses, farms provide employment, support local commerce and contribute to the economic tax base. As good neighbors and active, responsible community citizens, we and our families also are teachers, coaches, civic leaders and volunteers. That’s why we’re committed to keeping rural areas strong. Quality-of-life issues associated with being a good neighbor also are very important. The adoption of sustainable practices and ongoing research help ensure minimal environmental impact on rural areas.

More than 69,000 farmers produce nearly 22 billion pounds of pork each year at a value of $34.5 billion to the country’s gross national product. Raising pigs supports more than 800,000 jobs nationwide.
More than 69,000 farmers produce nearly 22 billion pounds of pork each year at a value of $34.5 billion to the country’s gross national product. Raising pigs supports more than 800,000 jobs nationwide.

Safe food

Food safety is the pork industry’s most important responsibility. Pig farmers, in collaboration with food safety experts, have made great progress in this area. Today’s on-farm practices to raise pigs have virtually eliminated some pork-related causes of human foodborne illness.2 New technologies and certification programs have better equipped farmers to consistently monitor safety risks associated with farming. On the farm, many factors can affect food safety, which is why today’s pig farms are designed to minimize threats to the safety of the food supply.

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1Compared with pigs from the 1950s, a typical pig today has 75 percent less fat. As a result, the six most common cuts of pork are 16 percent leaner and contain 27 percent less saturated fat than they did 20 years ago.

2Based on 3-ounce cooked serving (roasted or broiled), visible fat trimmed after cooking. USDA, Agriculture Research Service, 2009.

3Quick Facts, Pork Safety, Page 75.