Missouri agriculture kicked off October Pork Month a few days early, with a celebration at the Missouri Department of Agriculture in Jefferson City earlier this week. Missouri Director of Agriculture Jon Hagler, in partnership with the Missouri Pork Association, recognized the farm families behind the nearly three million hogs and pigs raised in Missouri, and the contributions those men and women make in their communities and throughout the state.

“Missouri's livestock industry is a driving force for agriculture within our state and the commitment of our pork producers plays a large role in our continued growth,” Hagler said. “Our livestock industry is a leader in animal health practices, in ensuring safety and in embracing technology, and Missouri's pork producers are leaders far beyond the borders of our state.”

During the celebration, Hagler presented Missouri pork producer Phil Howerton an agriculture achievement award.  Hagler recognized Howerton for his work to improve efficiency in his operation, J.D. Howerton & Sons Farm, by more than 10% through renovations to his facility and careful nutrient management. He also recognized Howerton for his volunteer efforts on behalf of pork producers in his Chilhowee, MO, community, and at the state and national levels.

“Advancements in technology and overall production practices allow pork producers to efficiently produce more pork with less inputs than ever before,” said Scott Hays, a pork producer from Monroe City and chairman of the board for the Missouri Pork Association. “We are now able to better feed a hungry and growing population with the highest quality, healthiest, most abundant and most affordable pork the world has ever known.”

Missouri's pork industry ranks 7th in the nation and contributes more than $1 billion to the state's economy each year. The industry also accounts for nearly 25,000 jobs in Missouri, according to the most recent agriculture census.

During the ceremony at the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Hagler recognized the Missouri Pork Association board, youth ambassadors and staff for their members' strong commitment to Missouri's agriculture industry. Hagler also presented Scott Hayes, Missouri Pork Association board chairman, with Governor Nixon's official proclamation designating October Pork Month in Missouri.

“October is the month to celebrate pork and all the advances made in the industry,” said Jessie Fowler, a 2013 Missouri Pork Association Youth Pork Ambassador from Vandalia. “It is also a great time for new generations of hog farmers to learn from the past and look to the future.”

Pork Month is celebrated nationwide and in Missouri throughout the month of October each year. For more information on Pork Month events, visit the Missouri Pork Association online at www.mopork.com or contact pork@mopork.com.