YORK – “Being a part of the Ricketts administration, the goal is to grow Nebraska and agriculture in our state,” Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman told a crowd this past week at the Nebraska Pork Expo held in York. “Certainly that is the focus of all of you and we thank you for what you do every day.”
He spoke to about 200 pork producers and agri-businesses involved in the pork industry in Nebraska as they gathered here for this statewide event.
“It’s a tough job and you all overcame a lot of challenges in the last year,” Wellman continued. “You found ways to make it through the last year.
“Right now, there are approximately 3.8 million hogs in Nebraska, it’s a growing sector in our state,” Wellman said. “We have three goals – to represent farmers and ranchers in the state and protect what you do; to focus on carrying out statutes with regulatory authority while being helpful and knowing your needs; and support our teammates in the department of agriculture.”
The state department of agriculture had a booth available at the convention center during the expo, as did dozens of businesses and other agencies dedicated to the field.
Statistics provided at the pork expo showed the estimated direct contribution of the pork industry in Nebraska is about $3 billion in output (sales), $852 million in value-added, nearly $469 million in labor income and 7,858 persons directly employed.
Local statistics were also provided (with latest data being in 2017) – showing there were 12 hog operations in York County, 16 in Fillmore County, 19 in Seward County, 17 in Polk County and 18 in Hamilton County.
During the expo, Rob Christine from the National Pork Board provided a national outlook on the pork industry.
Lisa Becton, a veterinarian representing the National Pork Board, provided information regarding disease impacts and prevention. There were also sessions on transition planning and sustainability.
During break-out sessions, there were a number of topics addressed. Producers talked about raising pigs in a variety of innovative ways. Swine companies talked about looking for farmers to partner with them in finishing pigs. There was a session about marketing hogs in the private sector. Producers also learned about breaking ground on new state-of-the-art facilities. There was also information about how a Nebraska pork operation implemented solar energy. There were also sessions about carbon markets and soil health benefits when using manure as fertilizer.
The expo was sponsored by Alliance for the Future of Agriculture (AFAN), the York County Development Corporation, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.