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From soybean crop to pork chop, pig farming sustains demand for oilseed

From soybean crop to pork chop, pig farming sustains demand for oilseed
Darcy Maulsby/iStock/Thinkstock

With Iowa’s soybean harvest expected to total nearly 600 million bushels, the partnership between soy and pork takes on added importance as production booms and trade disputes linger.

“Iowa soybean farmers depend on domestic and global demand for pork,” says Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) President Lindsay Greiner. “That’s always been true, but never more evident than right now.”

Iowa’s status as the nation’s leading pork producer depends on soybean farmers. About seventy-five percent of Iowa soybean crop is converted into soybean meal. The average pig consumes nearly 120 pounds of it — or the equivalent of 2.5 bushels of soybeans according to the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

“That appetite for soy is critical to the competitiveness and success of soybean farmers,” says Greiner, who grows soybeans and raises hogs near Keota, “Considering there are nearly 20 million pigs on feed at any given time in Iowa, the result is a strong demand for Iowa soybeans.”

              Dave Struthers, a soybean farmer who raises hogs near Collins, says both industries play off each other and add to Iowa’s agricultural productivity and economic success.

“I always say hakuna matata, it’s the circle of life. The beans are used as feed for the hogs, then the hogs produce the fertilizer to put back on the field,” says Struthers.

Why are soybeans and swine so BIG in Iowa?

  • Feed to fertilizer: One 4,800-head pig farm will generate enough plant food for 600 acres of a corn/soybean rotation.
  • Farming legacy: Iowa has more than 6,000 pig farms and 40,000 soybean farmers, and 94 percent of Iowa’s farms are family-owned.
  • Jobs, jobs, jobs: The two industries combined contribute $12.3 billion to Iowa’s economy and support more than 230,000 Iowa jobs.
  • Exports: Iowa is the top state for pork exports, totaling more than $1.1 billion in 2017, according to the National Pork Producers Council.

Join the Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association in celebrating October Pork Month by using #Porktober18 on social media. Celebrate an entire month dedicated to celebrating the most popular meat in the world, according to the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service.

“If you’re wondering how to best celebrate pork month and support Iowa farmers,” Struthers advises, “the answer is to eat more pork!”

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