Earth Day, Every Day
IL Pig Farmers Celebrate Earth Day Every Day
1. Alternative Energy Sources
Pig farmers are utilizing alternative sources of energy to power their farms. For example, solar panels on Gary Asay’s farm in Osco, IL provide enough electricity that he doesn’t have a power bill for the pig barns. The panels capture sunlight and convert it into energy, which then powers his farm.
He has a net metering agreement with the power company. When they produce more energy than needed, excess goes into the power grid. When they don't produce enough, he can pull power off the grid. The panels are connected to an app on his cell phone where he can track the incoming energy levels.
2. Soil Health
Pig manure is contained in deep concrete pits underneath pig barns. Slatted floors allow manure from the animals to fall beneath them and keep them clean. When the time is right, farmers carefully pump out manure from the pits to farm machinery that injects it beneath the horizon to crop fields.
Manure is a highly valuable, organic fertilizer that boosts soil health and crop production. Specifically, manure increases organic matter in the soil, water-holding capacity, and enhances soil-biodiversity, fostering a wide range of insect and bird species.
3. Air Quality
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2016, only 3.9 percent of U.S. GHG emissions came from animal agriculture, and pork production contributed even less at 0.35 percent. Pig farmers know that there is potential to lessen that number even more. To do so, farmers are planting tree buffers around their pig farms to recycle air.
Trees inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. This natural process helps to clean the air. As a tree matures, it can consume 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. It also releases enough oxygen to supply your (human) needs for two years.
IPPA has provided three rounds of cost-share funding for pig farmers to plant tree buffers on their farms. So far, 18 counties and 21 farms have taken part in this initiative. You can find a map of all these tree buffers at ilpork.com.
To the right, you can see the growth of Darren Brown's tree buffer from 2017 to 2019. Darren and his daughter are from Magnolia IL.
4. Illinois Monarch Project Partner
Agriculture is critical to increasing the monarch population. The Illinois Pork Producers Association is a proud stakeholder in the Illinois Monarch Project. Our farmers who manage the land will be key influencers in protecting natural lands and adding new environments for monarchs. The state of Illinois has a goal of adding 150 million additional milkweed stems, along with appropriate sources by 2038.
Since 2016, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has partnered with a wide range of organizations to develop a plan to conserve and grow the monarch population across the state. Each organization brings unique characteristics to the table and hope to have a greater impact by working together.
As part of Ag in the Classroom, educators across the state have had success with teaching about pollinators in the classroom. Public outreach success can be seen in an increased amount of registered Monarch Waystations. Since 2015, 163 new waystations have been created around the Knox County area alone! Click here for pollinator teaching material!
The Illinois Pork Producers have contributed to the mission with local landowners in Knox County. Keith and Kevin Erickson have joined IPPA, University of Illinois Extension, GROWMARK and ROWVA School District to participate in a pilot project to plant a habitat for Monarch butterflies.
For more information visit http://flipbook.ilfb3.org/monarchflipbook/index.html?
5. We Do More With Less
New research from the University of Arkansas validates the industry’s commitment to continuous improvement through a comprehensive life-cycle assessment that analyzes the entire supply chain. Overall trend lines continue in a positive direction over the past five decades with 75.9% less land used, 25.1% less water used, 7.7% reduction in carbon footprint and 7.0% less energy used per pound of pork produced.
To add to the trend, the industry has made significant progress on antibiotic usage. In December 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a report showing the industry has seen a 33% decrease in livestock antibiotic sales/distribution, which helps demonstrate the industry’s commitment to animal health and well-being, as well as to protecting overall public health.
6. We Care℠ Ethical Principles
As pig farmers, our solid foundation consists of values that we farm with. We recognize that a long-term commitment to sustainable pork must include continuous improvement.
More than a decade ago, the pork industry made a promise to engage in, and actively promote, ethical and responsible principles from farm to fork. The We Care℠ principles that we adhere by ensure:
1. Food Safety
2. Animal Well-being
3. Public Health
4. The Environment
5. Our People
6. Our Communities
Farmers work 24/7 to educate themselves on new practices to continue to be the best caregivers they can be to their animals. With all that said it is their priority to deliver safe and affordable food to our nation.