Environmental impact on pig farming is essential to good stewardship on any successful farm. We take proactive steps to minimize our environmental impact and work cooperatively with scientists, conservationists, government agencies and members of our local communities to address these issues. Our efforts have led to the development of better practices in manure management, and address air and water quality on farms across the country.
In many states, permits are required at state or local levels for construction of structures ranging from animal housing units to manure storage systems. Operating permits for manure handling also may be required. As in other industries, we must meet or exceed all local, state and federal environmental regulations, as well as worker health and safety requirements.
Ensuring the safety of our environment
Farmers are subject to a host of federal and state environmental regulations. Pig farmers work with officials at all levels of government to develop additional science-based rules to address reuse and management of valuable manure-based nutrients. Areas of environmental regulation include :
• Groundwater and surface water
• Air quality
• Animal manure management
• Land and soil quality
• Land use
Minimizing environmental impact
Every business must take action to minimize its carbon footprint. According to the American Farm Bureau, with data compiled by the EPA, only 9.0 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in 2017 came from agriculture. Of that percentage, pig farming contributes less than 0.3% of total U.S. GHG emissions. However, the U.S. pork industry is taking steps to better understand its carbon footprint and seeks opportunities to make further improvements. For example, research efforts at institutions such as the University of Arkansas are yielding information vital to assessing and improving the carbon footprint of pig farming.
Through the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study, under the close supervision of the EPA, we now have data for developing a tool to help farmers better understand air emissions from their operations and make improvements where possible.
Water is a finite natural resource, and a small percentage of it is dedicated to the raising of livestock and the production of pork. In order to get from farm to fork, hogs require fresh water for things like feed, drinking and processing during the final stages of production.
In raising hogs, 90 percent of water use is associated with irrigation of crops used for food. Just 10 percent of water use is on the farm, of which 87 percent is used for animal drinking water. As a result, water conservation technologies and practices are in place to ensure efficient use. This can include analyzing water use, facility maintenance and implementing proper animal drinking systems. Optimizing drinking methods has the greatest potential to not only reduce direct water use in hog production but can also lessen input costs for the producer. Water conservation and optimization is of utmost importance to pork producers.
Industry-funded research efforts from the Univ ersity of Arkansas’ Applied Sustainability Center helped identify a baseline water footprint for pig farming operations as well as opportunities for improved water conservation.
Researchers at the University of Arkansas completed an LCA to benchmark the land use expressed as acres occupied per year associated with raising live pigs. This study showed that nearly 98 percent of total land use in producing a 4-ounce serving of pork from field to fork is accounted for in the live production of pigs with feed crops accounting for 96 percent of land use.
This LCA benchmarked the national herd weighted land use for raising live pigs at 20.65 square feet per pound of live pig at the farm gate.
Pig Production Environmental Footprint Calculator
- A review of available literature and information related to energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, water and land use related to pork production.
- A summary or “scan level” life-cycle assessment of energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water and land use across the entire pork chain, including feed crop production, feed formulation, swine production, transportation, meat processing and retail components.
- A detailed, in-depth life-cycle assessment of the on-farm animal production component covering all aspects of raising the animals, including manure-management practices.
- A producer-friendly software tool called the Pig Production Environmental Footprint Calculator. It calculates the greenhouse gas emissions, water and land use involved in sow and grow-finish production as well as estimating costs associated with production inputs, which can help producers identify areas for potential improved efficiency
Step 1: Once you click the “Download the Calculator” button above, use the “save” feature to save the file to a folder on your computer; for example your “Downloads” folder. Please take note of where your file was downloaded so you can locate it for the next steps.
Step 2: After the download completes, find the file in the folder that you chose in the last step, and RIGHT CLICK on the file and select “Extract All” to extract the files from the Zip File. You will be able to choose the location where the files are extracted, but if you leave the default settings you will see a new folder labeled “PPEFC” in the same folder where your zip file is located.
Step 3: Open the PPEFC folder created in the last step, and click on the file titled “Pig Production Environmental Footprint Calculator” to run the application.