Sustainability of WI Beef and Pork Producers WHAT IS DONE ON THE FARM?

Highlights from a baseline assessment, 2015

Animal Standard_Highlights2015

The Wisconsin pork and beef industries are being proactive in documenting the sustainability of their producers while ensuring grower engagement in the process. These industries partnered with the National Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture to develop and implement a baseline sustainability assessment on farm level practices for local beef and pork producers.

The University of WI-Extension worked closely with the Wisconsin Pork Producers and the Wisconsin Cattleman’s Association on this groundbreaking program to measure on-farm sustainability success, encourage continual improvements and help farmers, food buyers and consumers learn about sustainability of Wisconsin beef and pork operations. This helps in the effort for valid documentation, continual improvement, and helps promote and communicate advancements in sustainable practices used on their local production systems.

The assessment used an entry level, baseline approach where researchers and producers determined question needs. In total, 90 producers filled out the assessment, with 65 beef operations assessed and 18 pork operations assessed.

These were family operations, with an average of 2 generations actively working on the farm, and on average these operations had been in business for 27 years.

Highlighted Results: The data shown demonstrates the percentage of growers using practices which encourage sustainable agricultural advancements.

Animal Production Management and Wellbeing:
• 95% of participants maintain records for their animals, with 69% of those having records by individual animal!
• 89% of farms had employees trained in various programs from quality assurance programs, to animal handling and confined worker safety
• 99% use nutritionally balance diets and clean water sources for all animals on the farm
• 86% treat diseased or injured animals promptly, and ensure veterinary care
• Cleanliness is stressed on the vast majority of farms (98%) as measure are taken to reduce dust, flies and odors!
• 97% of farm workers follow strict animal care and handling practices
Manure and waste management:
• Over 65% of farms use buffer strips of proper setback when applying manure
• 73% of growers use one or more tactics to prevent manure dilution, spills or other concerns.
Farm Economics and Community Outreach:
• Only 20% of producers have a farm succession plan, something that would need to be implemented to maintain farmlands in agriculture.
• 92% of all participants are involved in their communities at a local level, including 26% who are member of local boards, 32% who are involved in local service organizations, and 32% who invite school and other community members to the farm to learn about agriculture
• 54% of participants support their rural economies by buying their inputs from local sources