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Hog Outlook: Farm Impact Report shows how much you care.

Kevin Schulz

September 11, 2023

3 Min Read
View of CAFO buildings with conifers in front
SUSTAINABLE PICTURE: Consumers want to know how their food is produced, and pork producers should be willing to share the sustainable practices implemented on hog farms today. Courtesy of National Pork Board

October is annually set aside as Pork Month: 31 days to celebrate all that is good about pork producers, hogs — and, of course, pork itself.

With all of the external pressures facing the U.S. swine industry these days, it can be difficult to find some positives. All producers have a story to tell, and with the advent of social media, they have been encouraged to tell their story. Tell the public what it’s like on a pig farm, and why you do what you do.

Not everyone is a public speaker, and it can be hard to know what needs to be told. How and what producers are to tell their story has changed over time. It can get confusing.

Share the science behind your farm. Then, in the next breath, producers are told the public doesn’t want to get bogged down by science.

Then we’re told to hold onto words from President Teddy Roosevelt: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

There may be a lot of truth to that.

The Pork Checkoff launched We Care Ethical Principles in 2008 as a way to promote responsibility across every aspect of pork production.

While producers can tell the public how much they care about the environment, that can be empty talk if it can’t be backed up.

Back up with data

That’s where the checkoff-funded Pork Cares Farm Impact Report comes in. Producers are encouraged to participate by measuring and documenting the environmental improvements they are making on their farm.

While producers shouldn’t bog down the public with facts and figures, it is good to have those within reach should you enter a discussion where the other party wants to know just how much you do care. It has often been said that consumers want to know how their food is being raised, and now producers will be able to paint a clear picture of just how the production of that pork chop, loin or bacon has impacted the environment.

In addition to the findings of these reports giving producers talking points to be shared with financial institutions, packers and community members, this data also gives producers a starting point.

You can think that you are doing things the right way, but until you undergo such an exercise, you may not truly know where you stand. The farm impact reports are a partnership between the National Pork Board and Sustainable Environmental Consultants (SEC).

Producers get the ball rolling by requesting a report, after which they will have an introductory call with an SEC representative. An SEC agronomist will then assist producers in collecting on-farm data to begin the report. Once all data are collected and submitted, SEC will issue a report to the producer. Producers will receive a complete rundown of their farm’s metrics that will help tell their farm’s sustainability story.

Such reports will tell and show producers how their farm fares from a sustainability standpoint. Reports will also point out areas needing improvement, if indeed there are sustainable shortfalls.

Every farmer can always improve their operation, but they can never truly know how they’re doing until taking a litmus test such as the Pork Cares Farm Impact Report. This will help them know how their farm stands up sustainably, but it will also arm them with data to show and tell the inquiring public how their pork is being raised.

Schulz, editor of The Farmer, grew up on the family hog farm in southern Minnesota, before a career in ag journalism, including National Hog Farmer.

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

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