Strategies for Empowering Young Talent in Pork Farming

Apr 03, 2024

By Jean-Paul MacDonald

As the landscape of agriculture evolves, understanding the aspirations and interests of the next generation is paramount for the advancement of pork farming. Backed by research funded by the Indiana Pork Producers Association and the Indiana Soybean Alliance, valuable insights have emerged, illuminating pathways for the industry's future.  

Recognizing the imperative to address workforce challenges, Indiana Pork embarked on a mission to directly engage with young individuals. Collaborating with a consulting firm, they engaged decision-makers and human resources professionals across various scales of pork farms in Indiana. Insights gleaned emphasized the significance of early exposure to farming, portraying agriculture as an appealing career path, and enhancing educational programs to illuminate farming practices.  

Building upon these revelations, Indiana Pork delved deeper into understanding the desires of Indiana's youth. Surveying 468 adolescents aged 13 to 18, a trend emerged indicating a growing interest in high school internships within the agricultural domain. Notably, younger cohorts, aged 13 to 15, exhibited a heightened curiosity towards farming vocations, underscoring the importance of initiating conversations at an early age.  

The research underscores the necessity of tailored programs to captivate young audiences. Collaborating with entities such as Ascend Indiana, Indiana Pork is crafting initiatives designed to ignite enthusiasm among youth towards agricultural careers.  

A pivotal initiative involves the implementation of "Destination Pork," a curriculum aimed at acquainting students with pork farming within educational settings. Furthermore, pork farmers are actively engaging with students in classrooms, offering firsthand insights into their profession. 

Indiana Pork's collaboration with Indiana Ag and Technical School highlights their commitment to providing diverse learning avenues. This partnership enables students to blend online coursework with hands-on experiences, including internships within farm settings. 

Moreover, Indiana Pork is proactively engaging with local job boards and employment facilitators to showcase the plethora of opportunities available within the farming sector. 

Keith Haarer, affiliated with Whiteshire Hamroc, underscores the importance of fostering positive farm experiences for youth. Encouraging farm visits to interact with both livestock and farm personnel, Haarer advocates for innovative approaches to enlighten youth about farming careers. 

However, Haarer acknowledges the financial implications associated with bolstering the farm workforce. Acknowledging the need for competitive wages and flexible working arrangements, he emphasizes the necessity of investment in human capital.  

Rebecca Schroeder, at the helm of Whiteshire Hamroc, emphasizes the importance of prioritizing employee satisfaction and continual learning opportunities. Leveraging programs such as EARN Indiana, Schroeder highlights initiatives aimed at facilitating internships and subsidizing wages, thereby nurturing a skilled workforce. 

Indiana Pork's concerted efforts to engage with youth signify a proactive approach towards securing the future of pork farming. By fostering a conducive environment for talent development and innovation, Indiana Pork is poised to steer the industry towards sustained growth and prosperity.

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