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Investing In Our Planet Every Day – Including Earth Day, By Bill Even

“Despite all our accomplishments, we all owe our existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact it rains.”

Farmers hold a unique perspective on the impact of nature. Too much or too little rain can ruin a crop. Too much or too few nutrients in the soil can lead to either the crop lodging or failing to yield. Heat, cold, wind, rain, frost, snow – they all impact how farmers tend their crops and livestock.

We respect nature – through its highs and lows. We recognize our dependency on the natural resources that surround us. As a result, Earth Day is not just a day to remind ourselves of our responsibility to the planet, but also a day to recognize the actions farmers take every day to demonstrate our respect for Mother Nature.

Demonstrating Commitment with On-Farm Data

The recognition of our dependence on that six-inches of top soil means we also recognize the value of data that helps farmers make informed decisions to care for people, pigs and the planet. Recognizing this value, the National Pork Board offers Pork Checkoff-funded resources to farmers that help them understand the opportunity and impact of sustainable practices on their individual operations and the industry as a whole. Farm-level data from the recently released 2022 Pork Cares Snapshot Report highlights the continued progress America’s pig farmers when it comes to sustainability – or as my grandfather would call it, stewardship – on the farm.

Agriculture’s Regenerative Role

As shared by National Pork Board Chief Sustainability Officer, Jamie Burr, one of the most significant results from the 2022 Pork Cares Snapshot Report is the industry’s emerging role as a carbon sink.

With a net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions figure of -0.44 tons CO₂ equivalent per acre and 0.28 tons of carbon sequestered per acre, pork producers remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they produce.  Agriculture and forestry represent the only two industry sectors that can sequester carbon – representing another unique way our industry can offer partnerships to organizations with sustainability goals.

Setting Benchmarks and Advancing Partnerships

The data available in the 2022 Pork Cares Snapshot Report represents aggregated information from the more than 300 Pork Cares Farm Impact Reports completed by U.S. pig farmers. While the aggregated report is important to demonstrate industry progress, farm-specific reports can help farmers make decisions related to their operations unique circumstances – its geography, production mix, size, and more. Like so many things in life, sustainability is not a one-size-fits all situation. Your custom report can show retailers the hard work you put into your operation and your readiness to do more with the right resources.

The value of this approach has been recognized by many supply chain and conservation partners connected to the U.S. pork industry, as explained by Sam Morine, NPB’s Director of Grant Administration, shares more in this article. These partnerships and opportunities to receive financial support from grant funds to apply certain practices, brings full-circle an approach to sustainability that has been around for decades.

140 Years of Stewardship

Our family farm in South Dakota celebrates its 140th anniversary this year. While longevity is not the only metric that demonstrates sustainable decision making, it’s pretty difficult to stay in a volatile business like farming without making decisions that look at short- and long-term impact. For me, my father, grandfather and now, my brother and son, that includes investing in partnerships and USDA cost-share programs to learn as much as we can about practices and the latest advancements to care for our farm.

Like most farmers, we’re aiming for progress, not perfection. And like most farmers, we’re always working to learn more about how to continue on the path of progress.

Our family’s farm represents the thousands of U.S. farmers who daily balance doing what’s best for their animals, crops, communities, and planet.

And our motivation this Earth Day is passing our farm down to future generations – all while feeding the families around the world.

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