Patrick Bane, a pig farmer from Arrowsmith, Ill., has been named America’s Pig Farmer of the Year by the National Pork Board. Bane will travel the U.S. as an ambassador and voice for the pork industry throughout the year ahead.
“The public has to know we’re doing the right things to care for our animals and keep them healthy,” Bane says. “We need to foster an increased understanding about how their food is raised with today’s modern technology. It’s not only good for us as farmers, but good for them as consumers. You can’t drive that point home enough.”
Bane believes the pork industry has many good, positive stories to tell. He is honored to serve the industry as America’s Pig Farmer of the Year and is looking forward to advocating for our nation’s pig farmers to a much larger audience, he says.
“I want to do more to show what it’s like to raise pigs to populations largely unfamiliar with agriculture,” Bane says. “I am prepared to make the case for why we do what we do today, and I want to provide that perspective to those who may not have it. I’ve been to other parts of the world, have seen pig farming evolve in the U.S. for the last 40 years, and I think it positions me so I can answer people’s questions and talk through disagreements.”
Growing up in the heart of corn country in McLean County, Ill., Bane and two of his six brothers are running the family farm that has been around since the 1800s. After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1981 with a degree in animal science, he returned home and eventually became solely focused on the pork operation.
Today, his 3,000-sow closed breed-to-wean farm raises around 74,000 pigs each year. Bane describes his farm as clean, healthy and high-tech.
“Animal well-being is critical on our farm. We make sure the animals are not only comfortable in their housing, but that they are cared for in the proper way,” he says.
Bane believes it’s important to show people the work they do to ensure biosecurity and how well they care for their pigs.
“The most important We CareSM principle to me is public health,” Bane adds. “I’m very open to the public, and I want to solve a lot of the mysteries out there to the public. The public has to know what we’re doing right to care for our animals, keep them healthy and do the right thing with things like manure.”
He hopes consumers can achieve a better understanding of how their food is raised and the modern technology that is used today.
“As America’s Pig Farmer of the Year, I want to emphasize developing other advocates for what we do and impress upon influential people the importance of what pig farmers do,” he says. “I also want to reaffirm that the pork we produce is a quality, wholesome product.”
The America’s Pig Farmer of the Year program honors a U.S. pig farmer each year who excels at raising pigs following the We CareSM ethical principles and who is committed to sharing their farming story with the American public.
“We are pleased to have Patrick represent America’s pig farmers. He embodies the very best in pig farming,” says Steve Rommereim, National Pork Board president and a pig farmer from Alcester, South Dakota. “It’s important that we tell today’s consumers how we raise their food in an ethical and transparent way. Patrick’s interest in sharing his farm’s story, as well as putting a face on today’s pig farming, will help us reach this goal.”
Members of the five-member judging panel include Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane; Sarah Hendren, RDN, Nutrition & Quality Assurance Manager at Culver’s; Kari Underly, a third-generation butcher, author and principal of Range®, Inc., a meat marketing and education firm; J. Scott Vernon, professor, College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, Cal Poly; and Leon Sheets, 2017 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year.
To learn more about Bane's farm and the America's Pig Farmer of the Year Award, visit www.americaspigfarmer.com.