Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles was joined by members of the Kentucky Pork Producers Association (KPPA) as he declared October as Pork Month in Kentucky. Pictured are from right, KPPA Director of Program Management Emma Hope, KPPA board member Annie Tolle, Commissioner Quarles, KPPA Executive Director Niki Ellis, and KPPA Director of Swine Health Kylie Trail. (Kentucky Department of Agriculture)
Kentucky agriculture celebrates Pork Month in October
Commissioner Quarles signs proclamation honoring industry
FRANKFORT (Oct. 16, 2023) - Cracker Barrel Restaurants, FiveStar gas stations, and all the Dairy Queen restaurants in Kentucky and the surrounding region share one thing in common – they all use Kentucky-grown pork for their sausage. With more than 1.1 million 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.
“Sometimes referred to as the ‘other white meat,’ pork is a delicious, healthy lean protein to put on the family dinner table,” Commissioner Quarles said. “This month, we celebrate our agriculture producers and farmers who work hard to raise pork, a valuable, nutritious commodity for our commonwealth.”
The conscious choice businesses, such as FiveStar, Dairy Queen and Cracker Barrel, make when they opt for Kentucky-grown pork benefits Kentucky farmers and the state. Kentucky pork sales make up 2.2 percent of total cash receipts for Kentucky agriculture. The sale of market hogs and pigs brought Kentucky farmers $181.43 million in 2022, up 6.6 percent compared to 2021.
Pork is an important product to the national diet with the average American consuming more than 50 pounds of pork per year. Packed with important nutrients and minerals, pork provides protein, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium.
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 $181.43 million of gross cash receipts from hog markets in 2022 represent only a portion of the total economic activity supported by the industry. 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.
"Although this is a trying time in the pork industry, it’s encouraging to see growth within Kentucky. I have the opportunity to work for our Kentucky swine farm families professionally within my career and now personally as a current board member for the Kentucky Pork Producers Association (KPPA)," said Annie Tolle, KPPA board member. "KPPA works diligently to serve pork producers across the commonwealth through promotion, education, policy, and regulatory work to create sustainability for the future.”
With more than 1,800 swine operations across the commonwealth, Kentucky ranks in the top 20 states in the nation for total swine production. 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 2022, Kentucky had approximately 450,000 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.