Pork producers Wyoming pork industry makes progress
Historically, Wyoming hasn’t been considered a major player in the pork industry. Over the last 15 to 20 years that has changed, according to Jeremy Burkett, Wyoming Pork Producers Council (WPPC) state executive.
WPPC serves as the connection for Wyoming pork producers at the state and national levels of the swine industry. This year, WPPC’s goal is to revitalize and spread awareness about the benefits, programs and different educational resources they offer to the state, Burkett says.
“We want to make sure Wyoming residents are fully aware of what WPPC has to offer and what resources are available to them,” states Burkett.
In the future, WPPC plans to continue to grow youth programs such as, 4-H, FFA and help county fairs and Wyoming State Fair. WPPC also wants to work on keeping the public informed about what the WPPC is doing statewide and nationally.
Burkett says, in 2016, roughly 120 million pigs were sold across the U.S, which equals around $16 billion in gross market value. Approximately, $68 million from that went to the pork checkoff program and provides national programs for producer and youth education, research and community development.
On the same level, Wyoming took 280,000 pigs to market. This generated revenue of about $13.5 million, says Burkett. Roughly $54,000 was collected, and WPPC received $21,000 to run programs.
“That money goes towards youth scholarships, research and development and producer and youth education programs,” comments Burkett, noting WPPC is a big supporter of 4-H, FFA and similar programs.
Currently, the Wyoming pork industry needs to spread more awareness about programs like WPPC, and support from the community will help increase growth, Burkett adds.
“WPPC serves as platform for people to have their voices heard in regards to different programs or youth development activities that can be done,” he states.
With an ever-growing population, production efficiency and an increasing demand for an economical protein source, the pork industry has a lot of growth potential, especially in the western states, according to Burkett.
“I think pork can grow to meet the needs of the market,” he adds.
Wyoming’s open spaces, agricultural drive and the support for agriculture in the state leads Burkett to believe the Wyoming pork industry will definitely have a bigger role moving forward.
On the production side, due to Wyoming’s dry environment, dust and manure management control isn’t as strong in heavily populated areas of swine production, says Burkett.
“We are continually able to find different applications for the pork industry, biosecurity and research, which is a dual benefit because Wyoming plays a role in nationwide production,” Burkett comments.
Wyoming is also playing a bigger role by supplying feeder pigs to the Midwest. Gilts and isoweaned producer pigs are born in Wyoming then sent to the Midwest to be fed, which is closer to feed sources.
Also, because of Wyoming’s location in relation to slaughterhouses and markets, an increase in the finisher pig market is not beneficial.
In the state, there is little to no biosecurity threat because the population and number of pigs in Wyoming are so low. The Midwest has started to recognize these advantages when it comes to biosecurity, he says.
“We offer a different means to biosecurity and this has improved our status in national pork production,” comments Burkett.
The biggest challenge the Wyoming pork industry faces is people not realizing there is swine production in the state.
“I think more awareness about what WPPC does in the ag industry is essential,” says Burkett, adding the pork industry will be responsible for more agricultural growth going forward.
Other challenges moving forward are location to feedstuffs, markets and the marketing of products, according to Burkett.
In the last three years, the number of commercially slaughtered pigs in Wyoming has increased. Burkett thinks this is because of a movement to send pigs to Wyoming from the Midwest due to biosecurity issues.
By understanding efficiencies, not having major health issues and the control and maintenance of high health has helped the efficiency of raising grower and nursery pigs.
“The ability to start pigs in Wyoming and send them back to the Midwest to be finished out has had a major impact on the Wyoming pork industry,” comments Burkett.
“Making sure public perception is positive and people know the industry is improving in an economical and efficient manner without sacrificing the wellbeing of the livestock or swine in general is important,” he states.
Heather Loraas is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org