Young people who are interested in a future in the swine industry have an abundance of opportunities, says Ben Luebbering of St. Thomas, Mo.
Luebbering, 20, was recently named one of three 2019 Pig Farmers of Tomorrow at the National Pork Industry Forum.
“Most large pig operations are offering internships or employment on a regular basis,” he says. “These opportunities provide valuable experiences that can direct aspiring pig farmers in many of their decisions within the industry.”
In addition, Luebbering reminds young pig farmers to contact their state pork association or the National Pork Board when looking for opportunities to get involved or share their story.
Speaking of sharing stories, he believes this is one of the challenges his generation will face in the years ahead.
“We have arrived at a time where it is important to be transparent with consumers by sharing your farm story,” he says. “While this task is exciting, it also creates an added task to running a farm which can be difficult to balance.”
One of the ways that he shares his story is by utilizing social media platforms.
“Social media allows me the opportunity to share an accurate message of what happens daily on my family’s pig farm. This helps me gain the trust of consumers by showing them inside my barns,” he adds.
The Challenge of Expansion
His family operates Profits Point Farm, an independent, 160-sow, farrow-to-finish farm, that markets hogs to Smithfield in Milan, Mo.
“My grandparents, dad, and uncle run the operation,” Luebbering says. “I help out every weekend and will be returning home full-time to the farm once I have graduated from Mizzou where I am currently pursuing an agribusiness management degree and minor in animal science.”
In the future, he hopes to see their operation expand to ensure they can remain viable and bring back some of his cousins to the farm as well.
This is the second challenge he believes his generation will face – entering the swine industry and expanding current pig farms.
“The costs associated with starting a pig farm or expanding an operation to remain viable can make things very difficult for young pig farmers,” Luebbering says. “My generation will need to be innovative to find ways that they can continue to pursue their passion.”
Luebbering advises finding someone local who is already in the swine industry and asking for their help when considering opportunities in the business.
“If it is your passion, don’t let anything stop you from being involved in the industry,” he says. “Work hard and seek out opportunities that will allow you to grow while making connections. Take advice willingly and ask questions often, the only way to grow is to learn.”
A Family Tradition Continues
He admits he’s blessed that he was raised on his family’s farm, feeding pigs with his dad before he could tie his shoes.
“I developed a love for pigs and enjoy every minute I get to spend on the farm. Needless to say, the swine industry is my passion and I am excited to continue the family tradition of farming,” he says.
Ben’s father, Doug Luebbering, is looking forward to Ben’s return to the family farm.
“Ben is passionate about hog production and is a critical thinker who is always evaluating and looking for ways to improve,” Doug says. “One of his strengths that will help us remain a viable and competitive operation is his ability to work with others directly and through networking.”
In addition, Doug says Ben’s role as a Pig Farmer of Tomorrow will provide his son exposure to practices and techniques used by other operations that may help them improve their family farm’s efficiency.
As a 2019 Pig Farmer of Tomorrow, he will speak at Pork Checkoff events this year and provide content on #RealPigFarming, the pork industry’s social media program.
“It is important for the Pork Checkoff to recognize the future leaders of the pork industry,” says National Pork Board President Steve Rommereim, a pork producer from Alcester, S.D. “We are excited for these young farmers to share their unique stories with consumers.”
Luebbering says his name may be heard as a Pig Farmer of Tomorrow, but this opportunity would not be possible without the support and enthusiasm from everyone on their family’s farm.
“I am excited to be able to share our farm’s story with others,” he says.