South Dakota 's pork industry may be on the verge of an exciting expansion, says Andrew Arhart, the new South Dakota Pork Producers Council president.
The state has nearly all the ingredients for significant expansion of its hog industry, says Arhart, who finishes hogs and farms near Alpena, S.D.
It has a large established packer located in Sioux Falls.
Even with the dozen or so ethanol plants in the state, it has abundant supply of corn to fatten hogs.
It has plenty of wide open spaces to keep hog operations far enough away from each other that disease doesn't spread from one barn to another.
South Dakota also is home to thousands of corn, soybean and wheat growers who could benefit from having another source of fertilizer for their crops.
"We encourage grain producers to keep an open eye to the opportunity for a third party to build a hog barn on a corner of their cropland. It becomes a win-win situation for grain farmers who can use swine barn nutrients on their crops. It's a way to diversify a grain operation in a short time," Arhart says.
Restrictive county zoning currently limits expansion of the swine industry in South Dakota. One county requires a four mile setback for a hog barn. But Arhart says attitudes may be changing.
Modern confinement barns have proven to be safe and environmentally secure, Arhart says.
"People are more comfortable today than they were 10-20 years ago that the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources has the ability to regulate the industry and protect the environment," he says.
Finishing hogs can have a very large, positive impact on local economies, Arhart notes.
"Everyone was rightfully excited by the news that a new cheese plant was going to be built in the state and that the dairy industry would likely expand," Arhart says.
Growth in the swine industry could be as exciting and important for South Dakota.