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The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch
  • Sleepy Eye pork producers address the progress of the industry

  • Sleepy Eye area business leaders heard a presentation from Sheila Schmid of Schwartz Farms, Inc., and Rod Hamilton of Christensen Farms Thursday, July 17 at the Sleepy Eye Community Center.
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  • Sleepy Eye area business leaders heard a presentation from Sheila Schmid of Schwartz Farms, Inc., and Rod Hamilton of Christensen Farms Thursday, July 17 at the Sleepy Eye Community Center.
     
    Schmid and Hamilton highlighted how and why the pork industry has changed dramatically, the industry’s impact on the rural economy and the use of science and technology to raise healthier pigs and protect the environment.
     
    According to Operation Main Street, an initiative that was started in 2004 by the National Pork Board, Minnesota pork production generates $7.8 billion of economic activity in the state and provides Minnesota residents with more than 22,500 direct and support jobs.
    According to Schmid, Schwartz Farms employs roughly 240 full-time employees and works with 130 independent farm families in Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota.
     
    Hamilton added that Christensen Farms employs roughly 1,100 employees and markets about 3 million hogs per year.
     
    “Never has there been more opportunities in agriculture than there is today,” Hamilton said. “There are endless opportunities out there.”
     
    Raising pigs, he said, is the backbone of the company, but there are other opportunities available for individuals interested in human resources, accounting, information technology and more. 
     
    Schmid noted that one of the greatest investments in rural America is students and there are opportunities for agriculture related careers right here in Sleepy Eye.
     
    “What a big advantage it is that two leaders in the pork industry, (Schwartz Farms and Christensen Farms) are located here in Sleepy Eye,” Hamilton added.
     
    Schmid went on to say that the industry uses all sorts of talents to help individuals become engaged where their talents are.
     
    Hamilton noted that world food needs are enormous. He said that by the year 2050, the world’s food supply has to double.
     
    “It is everyone’s role and responsibility to feed the world. Food production is noble. I’m a pork producer and I’m extremely proud of that,” he said.
     
    They also highlighted the industry’s impact on the local economy, and ongoing programs to raise healthier pigs and protect the environment.
     
    Schmid explained that pork producers look different today than they did 50 years ago, and thanks to efficiency enhancing technology, producers are able to do more with less and produced a safer, leaner product than it used to be.
     
    Schmid highlighted that pig farmers have made great strides in the practices that lead to the substantiality of their farms. Compared to 50 years ago, pig farmers use 41 percent less water and 78 percent less land to produce one pound of pork.
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    Pork producers also add to the value of the community, according to Minnesota Pork.
     
    In 2012, Brown County farmers sold 575,000 market hogs and generated $270 million into the Brown County economy.
     
    In addition to Minnesota’s pork producing families, hog production creates another 22,500 jobs such as swine nutrition and care, construction and related building services, trucking, feed milling, accounting and consulting.
     
    Hamilton added that pork producers have reduced land use and water usage resulting in five sows today producing the same amount of pork that it took eight sows to produce in 1959.
     
    “Today’s farms combine the best of traditional farming methods with benefits of better animal health and nutrition and modern barns, “Schmid remarked. “That why today’s pork is safer, leaner and better for you than ever before in our nation’s history.”
     

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