The Pork Checkoff suggests steps to guard your investments and yourself.

The recent vandalism of a northwest Iowa hog farm that resulted in the loss of nearly 4,000 hogs highlights the need for all pork producers to remain vigilant to protect their personal safety, livestock and livelihoods.

In that incident, the Sioux County, IA, sheriff's office reported that the ventilation controls in a hog barn were tampered with, causing the animals to suffocate. The barn contained feeder pigs weighing about 55 lb. each, resulting in an estimated loss of more than $200,000.

“Unfortunately, there are people out there who may try to harm your animals and your livelihood,” says Lisa Becton, DVM, director of swine health information and research for the Pork Checkoff. “That's why it's so important to be alert and take simple steps to be prepared for the unexpected.”

Don't be afraid to call local law enforcement officials to report suspicious activity, stresses Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald, who serves in neighboring Story County, IA. When that happens, officers can file a suspicious activity report, which can be shared with other law enforcement officials. “Farmers need to get away from the mindset of not wanting to bother us. The public's input is one of our best tools for solving crimes,” he says.

To help protect your farm from vandalism, consider the following tips from Becton and Fitzgerald:

  • Don't become an easy target

    Lock barns, sheds and other important buildings on the farm. Remove keys from your vehicle when left unattended. Also, consider locking your electric control panel. “Even if criminals are undeterred and try to pry open the locked panel, they tend to get sloppy and leave evidence at the scene,” says Fitzgerald.

  • Remove obstructions

    Provide a clear view of your barns and other key locations around the farm. Don't park equipment in areas that obstruct a clear view of the buildings. “The fewer places criminals can hide behind, the better,” Fitzgerald says.

  • Keep an eye out

    Consider installing motion-activated cameras at your farm. Inexpensive, motion-activated wildlife cameras from a sporting goods store will work, says Becton. Place cameras at locations where criminals are likely to strike at night.

  • Keep the lights on

    Ensure all areas of your farm are as well lit as possible, Fitzgerald says. Since criminals like to operate in the shadows, consider installing motion-activated floodlights in strategic locations around the farm. Extra lighting will also help your security cameras capture images better.

  • Test your equipment

    Check security cameras and emergency backup systems periodically to make sure the equipment runs properly.

  • Take an inventory

    Walk through your barns with a video camera to create an inventory of building contents to provide vital evidence in case of a disaster.

  • Ensure that phone numbers are easily accessible

    Think about key people you might need to contact in case of an emergency, and make sure this information is readily available, says Becton.

  • Watch out for inside jobs

    If a former employee seems to be disgruntled and could pose a threat to your operation, consider changing the locks on your barn doors and installing deadbolts. It's also a good idea to alert neighbors to be wary of suspicious activity around your farm and urge them to contact you or law enforcement officials if something doesn't look right. “Make farm security a neighborhood effort,” Becton says.

  • Consider additional security steps

    For a more comprehensive look at steps you can take to protect your farm and animals, review the protocols in the Pork Checkoff publication, “Security Guide for Pork Producers” found at www.pork.org.

Renowned Economist Glenn Grimes Calls It Quits

After nearly 60 years in agriculture as a student, teacher, advisor and consultant, University of Missouri agricultural economist Glenn Grimes “officially” re-retired at the close of 2009.

Grimes retired the first time in 1985. From then through 2009, he served as professor emeritus and worked part-time in the University of Missouri's Department of Agricultural Economics.

Grimes began in 1951 as a county agricultural Extension agent in southern Missouri. From 1956 to 1985 he served as livestock marketing specialist for the Missouri Extension Service. He also taught livestock marketing courses and assisted with research projects in livestock marketing.

Paragon Economics President Steve Meyer fondly recalls Grimes in his Daily Livestock Report: “He is a terrific economist who has made a career of using economic theory and facts to explain and predict economic conditions.”

Grimes was honored as one of National Hog Farmer's top 50 men and women in the pork industry in 2005 and honored as one of The Masters of the Pork Industry in 2006.