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The Other White Meat - Pork Production in Michigan

MSU Extension Educator speaks on pork production and its economic impact

October 31, 2009       Leave a Comment
By: Stephen Kent

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Last Weeks Meeting - October 27, 2009

Jerry May is an MSU Extension Educator, a representative of the pork industry, and a pork producer. His address on Tuesday outlined how pork is produced and its economic impact on the state.

During his talk, May distributed cards to volunteers who represented various components of the pork production infrastructure. At the end of the talk he had all those people raise the cards to show how many different types of businesses play a part in this endeavor.

According to the Michigan Pork Producers Assn (MPPA), the state had some 2,000 pork producers in 2007. These farms sold over two million hogs and provided over 5,000 jobs. The farms come in many sizes but most are still run by families.

As a county with over 50% of its industry being agriculture related, pork has significant impact. The industry is highly consolidates. 90% of hogs in the US are being raised on less than 10,000 farms. Iowa is the largest pork producing state and N. Carolina is considered second although it ships most of its piglets to the Midwest for finishing. Michigan is in the top dozen states, largely due to the ample supply of feed corn.

Production starts at the sow unit where the pigs are born. The owner of this farm is the owner of the pigs from start to finish. The farm will work in units of 2,500 sows, and will move 1,000 piglets a week. The unit will have 8 to 10 employees earning from $10 to $12 per hour.

The 18 to 21 day old weaned piglets go to a contract nursery facility where they stay for 7 weeks. The nursery will raise 7,000 pigs at a time in two 3,500 pig barns. From the nursery the 45 pound pigs go to a contract pig barn which will raise 4,000 pigs at a time to market weight. The original owner provides the feed and all other necessities. The contract barn is only responsible for the daily care and the facility.

The entire production industry is scientifically operated in a regulated environment. Facilities are highly automated. Workers are certified from the growers to the truck drivers. Growers practice "biosecurity" in the barns, requiring protective clothing and, in some cases showers, before entering the facility. "Farmers give their pigs medicine when they are sick but prefer prevention over treatment".

Addressing a question about wild boars, May said that there is a problem in Michigan but it comes from boars escaping from game farms, not pork farms. The animals are very different. The DNR supports shooting of wild boars on sight but the local county prosecutor decides if he will prosecute in his county.

From the original sow operator to finished pig, the pork industry is supported by dozens of local businesses. The economic impact extends through the community.


  • The entrance sign at the Pere Marquette Depot has been installed.

  • The club encourages members to support the Rotary International Foundation. Next week envelopes will be put on the tables to collect contributions. Bring your check book. You can turn the envelope in or mail it back to the club.

  • As the dictionaries are delivered to local school children, the thank you letters continue to come in. President Trahan displayed a poster that came from one school.

  • Meeting Times: Lunch is now on the table at noon allowing members to start the meal earlier. The meeting starts by 12:30 and the speaker starting by 12:50. The meeting typically adjourns around 1:15!

  • Make-up On-Line at


    November 24 - Rotary Homecoming: An opportunity to showcase our club to prospective members, welcome back past members and celebrate our alma maters! Rotarians & guests are encouraged to wear their school colors and show their team spirit. Rotary Homecoming is an important piece of our club's membership recruitment strategy. So start thinking about prospective members who you can invite to join us on this festive day.

    Upcoming Programs

    (See the official schedule at )
  • November 3: Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation Presented by Anne Trahan. And new member induction.

  • November 10: H1N1 Informational presented by Joel Strasz from the Bay County Health Department

  • November 17: Rotary Grant Recipient Update: The Free Food Assistance Program and The Outdoor Reading Centers.

    Jennifer Carroll, Executive Director of the United Way of Bay County, will also share an overview on some UW programs including The Holiday Food Baskets, The State of Human Services Event and The Free Tax Program.

  • November 24: Rotary Homecoming: An opportunity to showcase our club to prospective members, welcome back past members and celebrate our alma maters! Rotarians & guests are encouraged to wear their school colors and show their team spirit.


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    Stephen Kent

    Steve Kent and his family have lived in Bay City for 40 years. He is VP of Technical Services at MMCC which produces MyBayCity.Com. Kent is active in many Bay City civic organizations.

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