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When you think of pork, did you realize that Calhoun County’s pig farmers are serving up a whole lot more than bacon, ham and pork chops? Pork production in the county also helps fund local schools and libraries, thanks to the property taxes these farmers and landowners pay.

There are more than 800 farms in Calhoun County (813, to be exact, according to 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture data), and a number of these are pig farms.

Fun fact #1: Iowa farmers produce about 1/3 of the nation’s pork, making us the #1 pork producing state in the nation.

“Raising livestock was the only way I was going to get started in farming,” said Jason Folsom, who raises pigs, corn and soybeans. “I like working with livestock. If you grew up on a livestock farm, it sticks with you.”

Most of Folsom’s swine barns are located near Rockwell City. “I always knew I wanted to farm and started thinking about it seriously in high school,” said Folsom, who dabbled in construction work before farming full-time. “I like the independence of farming, watching things grow and being able to see rewards for your labor.”

There are 5,418 pig farms in Iowa, according to the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA). The vast majority (94%) of them are family owned like the Folsom family’s farm. Iowa Select Farms, a homegrown Iowa company focused on pork production, also has facilities in Calhoun County, including a modern warehouse in Rockwell City.

Fun fact #2: Approximately one in 10 Iowans have jobs connected to pork production.

More than 147,000 Iowa jobs are connected to the pork industry in our state, generating $6.8 billion in household income, according to IPPA. In addition to farming, pork industry-related jobs in Calhoun County range from feed mill operators and feed truck drivers to veterinarians.  

In Calhoun County, 28 percent of employment comes from ag (crop and livestock production), or ag-related industries. This equates to more than 1,700 jobs in Calhoun County. This also drives the multiplier effect, where every dollar spent at local businesses generates more economic growth throughout the community.

Fun fact #3: Pigs add value to the corn and soybeans produced in Calhoun County and beyond, consuming one of every 5 acres grown in Iowa, according to IPPA.

Pomeroy Feed MillConsider NEW Cooperative’s feed mill in Pomeroy, which serves pig farmers in a 45-mile radius of Pomeroy. This modern mill, which became operational in 2015, produces 650,000 tons of swine and poultry feed per year from 14 million bushels of grain. The mill employs 10 people, along with 16 feed truck drivers, including NEW employees and contracted haulers.

Feed is made from corn and distillers’ grains, a co-product of ethanol production. The feed also incorporates soybean meal, purchased from area soybean processors. “The feed mill creates a healthy market for NEW Cooperative members’ grain,” reports NEW Feed Division Manager Kent Nolting.

Did you know the pork industry in Calhoun County and Iowa plays a vital role in contributing to food security, both domestically and internationally? Pig farmers in Iowa produce 37+ billion servings of pork each year. That’s a lot of bacon, ham and pork chops. More than 26% of the pork produced in the United States is exported overseas.

Closer to home, Calhoun County pork producers are committed to environmentally sustainable practices, from responsible nutrient management and proven conservation practices.

Folsom regularly tests the nutrient content of the swine manure from his barns. He adds these nutrients to his fields to enhance soil health and feed his crops. “These nutrients are too valuable to waste,” said Folsom who has a manure management plan on file with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

What’s Folsom’s favorite pork cut? “Everyone loves bacon. It’s also hard to beat a good pork loin, smoked pork chop or ham. I like all of it.”

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