Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles signed a proclamation today designating October as Pork Month in Kentucky. At the proclamation signing, Commissioner Quarles, center, was joined by, from left, John Chism, Kentucky Department of Agriculture's Livestock Division Director; Niki Ellis, Executive Director of the Kentucky Pork Producers Association; Luke Millay, a swine producer and student at Morehead State University; and Emma Heimlich, Kentucky Pork Producers Association's Director of Program Management. (Kentucky Department of Agriculture)
Kentucky agriculture celebrates Pork Month
Commissioner Quarles signs proclamation honoring swine industry
FRANKFORT (Oct. 13, 2022) – With more than 860,000 swine produced annually in Kentucky, pork is an important product for the state’s agriculture community. That importance is celebrated this month as Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles proclaims October as Pork Month in Kentucky.
“This month we celebrate our agriculture producers who work hard to raise pork, a healthy, lean meat,” Commissioner Quarles said. “Pork plays an important role in our state. But more than anything, we celebrate the farmers that put in the work to bring us this valuable, nutritious commodity.”
Pork is an important product to the national diet with the average American consuming about 50 pounds of pork per year. Packed with important nutrients and minerals, pork provides protein, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium.
Kentucky pork sales make up 2.5 percent of total cash receipts for Kentucky agriculture. The sale of market hogs and pigs brought Kentucky farmers $170.24 million in 2021, up 33.3 percent from the previous year.
Although the size and structure of the Kentucky pork industry has changed over time, increased levels of production have supported jobs and generated earnings in the state economy. The $170.24 million of gross cash receipts from hog markets in 2021 represent only a portion of the total economic activity supported by the industry. The largest single category of expenditure is feed. With 863,458 head produced annually, 8.1 million bushels of corn valued at $38.16 million and 53.5 thousand tons of soybean meal valued at $17.28 million are used in Kentucky.
Overall, an estimated $459.77 million of personal income and $646.18 million of gross national product are supported by the Kentucky pork industry based on 2021 levels of production.
“The Kentucky Pork Producers Association is proud to work on behalf of the state’s 1,805 pork producing farm families,” said Niki Ellis, executive director of the Kentucky Pork Producers Association. “Their dedication to their farms provides delicious, nutritious pork options for all consumers to enjoy. As we promote Pork Month, we invite all Kentuckians to celebrate by enjoying pork in your favorite dishes.”
You can also enjoy Kentucky pork at several statewide locations, Ellis said. All Cracker Barrel Restaurants, FiveStar gas stations, and all Dairy Queen restaurants in Kentucky and the surrounding region use Kentucky-grown pork for their sausage. The conscious choice these businesses are making to opt for Kentucky-grown pork is also benefiting Kentucky farmers.
“Raising my family in the Kentucky swine industry is so rewarding because we are able to appreciate the sources of food that not only feed our family and our community, but the state and the world,” said Sarah Jones of Red Hill Farms in Allen County. “The swine industry within Kentucky is very exciting. We have lots of different producers that are getting into a variety of niche markets and feeding their community while also expanding their production and employing more people within their area.”
At the same time, Jones said the younger generation is becoming more involved in the industry.
“We also have a growing amount of youth involvement within the industry. These kids are our future and we’re giving them the opportunity to learn about life, hard work, and responsibility. It’s important to have the next generation involved and learning about the swine industry,” she said.
With more than 1,800 swine operations across the commonwealth, Kentucky ranks 17th in the nation for total swine production. The number of swine operations has increased by more than 500 since 2017. That increase is largely due to individual farmers wanting to add swine to their operations during the pandemic. There has also been an uptick in the amount of farms raising swine for shows, according to Ellis. Though they can be found throughout the state, most of Kentucky’s hogs are raised in western Kentucky, near production of their primary food source of corn and soybeans.At the end of 2021, Kentucky had approximately 435,000 total head of market hogs on feed, representing only a portion of the more than 860,000 hogs and pigs Kentucky farmers sold at market last year.