Swine were first introduced into what is now Arkansas by the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1541. Since pork can be salted and smoked for preservation, many early settlers used pigs to supply their needs for meat and cooking fat (lard). The widespread production of pigs persisted until commercial refrigeration was introduced in the 1930s and 1940s. At that time, pork became available from more remote sources, and production was more specialized and concentrated on fewer farms.
- More than 1.2 million pigs are produced in Arkansas annually.
- The total value of Arkansas pork production exceeds $100 million per year.
- Current estimates indicate 95 percent or more of the swine in Arkansas are grown under contract. The contracting company supplies the hogs, feed, fieldmen for herd health and production management and a market for the hogs
- The average American eats approximately 50 pounds of pork annually.
- Between 1980 and 2005, changes in genetics and feeding programs have reduced the time required to grow a pig to full weight by 15 percent and increased lean muscle by 45 percent.