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Insights into the Future of Pork Farming

Insights into the Future of Pork Farming

By Andi Anderson

Understanding what the next generation wants is key to shaping the future of pork farming. Recent research funded by the Indiana Pork Producers Association and the Indiana Soybean Alliance sheds light on what young people are looking for, offering valuable insights for the industry.

To tackle the challenge of finding enough workers, Indiana Pork decided to hear directly from young people. They worked with a consulting firm to talk to decision-makers and human resources staff at pork farms of different sizes in Indiana. They found out that it's important to start talking to kids about farming when they're young, to make farming seem like a good job, and to have better programs to help people learn about farming.

Based on these findings, Indiana Pork dug deeper to understand what young people in Indiana want. They surveyed 468 kids aged 13 to 18 and found out that more and more kids are interested in doing internships while they're still in high school. Younger kids, aged 13 to 15, are especially interested in learning about farming careers, so it's a good idea to talk to them about it early on.

Chad Martin, who works on reaching out to people for Indiana Pork, says it's important to have programs that young people will like. Indiana Pork is working with groups like Ascend Indiana to create programs that will get kids excited about working in farming.

One thing they're doing is using a curriculum called Destination Pork to teach kids about pork farming at school. They've also started having pork farmers talk to kids in classrooms to tell them about their jobs.

Indiana Pork is also working with a high school called the Indiana Ag and Technical School, which lets students do some of their learning online and some of it in person. The school also lets students do internships on farms.

Indiana Pork is also telling people who help young people find jobs, like local job boards, about all the jobs available in farming.

Keith Haarer, who works with people at Whiteshire Hamroc, says it's important for kids to have good experiences on farms. He wants to keep letting kids come to the farm to meet the pigs and the people who work there. He also wants to keep finding new ways to tell kids about what it's like to work on a farm.

But getting more workers on farms costs money, Haarer says. Pork farms need to pay their workers more and let them work flexible hours.

Rebecca Schroeder, who runs Whiteshire Hamroc, says pork farms need to spend more money to make sure their workers are happy and have chances to learn new things. Schroeder says her farm has been using a program called EARN Indiana to help pay for internships. The program helps students find internships and helps pay for part of their wages.

Photo Credit: istock-apichsn

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