US swine sector looks to reduce its environmental impact

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Iowa hog barns © GettyImages/DS70
Iowa hog barns © GettyImages/DS70

Related tags swine ruminants Natational Pork Board

The US produces 12% of the world’s pork, which is one of the most widely consumed proteins in the world. Working with American producers is critical to making an impact on the sustainability footprint of livestock, said the lead of a UC Davis facility that has begun an alliance with the US swine sector.

The CLEAR Center at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) is paring up with the National Pork Board (NPB) to further sustainability research and extension in swine production. Led by Dr Frank Mitloehner, the UC Davis facility leverages world-class research and science communication to improve sustainability in animal agriculture.

The opportunity to work with the sector to reduce the environmental impact of such an important commodity is significant, Dr Mitloehner. “Working with the NPB aligns with our land grant mission to research and share work through extension and outreach that is of value to society.”

The NPB has committed $600K to the CLEAR Center to focus on sustainability research and extension work. With this funding, the UC Davis team will research pork sustainability practices and release findings. 

Dale Stevermer, NPB Board member from Minnesota, said farmers will benefit from the collaboration with CLEAR because it is a collaborative project with respected researchers at a top-notch land grant university, with the research results set to be communicated to various stakeholders.

We work a lot with ruminants, but our goal is to help all of animal agriculture become more sustainable,”​ said Dr Mitloehner, when commenting on the alliance on social media.

Milestones to date

The US pork industry has made great strides in sustainability, said the NPB. Over the past six decades, pork producers have used 75% less land, 25% water, 7% less energy and 7.7% fewer carbon emissions (Putnam et al., 2018).

In September 2022, the NPB and six collaborating organizations were awarded a $20m grant through USDA’s Partnership for Climate Smart Commodities program. It is s designed to increase the sustainability of US pork production by advancing climate-smart agriculture practices in Iowa, Minnesota, and Missouri.

“With nearly 50% of pork’s environmental footprint attributable to the crops raised for feed, this project to advance both climate-smart pork management and feed production supply practices will make a significant impact on the overall sustainability footprint of US pork,”​ claims the NPB.

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