A solution for food waste in schools: Give it to the pigs

Weird News

In this 2014 photo provided by Ryan Parker, two pigs consume discarded milk at Nights And Weekends Homestead in Newport, Maine. The state of Maine has recently clarified rules about giving food waste to pig farms. (Photo courtesy Ryan Parker)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine has decided that eating like a pig could be a good thing, especially for schools looking to cut down on food waste.

A law saying schools can give food scraps away to pig farmers is now on the books in the state.

The practice of feeding human food waste to pigs goes back millennia, but some school districts in Maine have expressed confusion in recent years about the rules around the practice. So the Maine Legislature passed a clarifying bill that took effect Sept. 19.

The new standards will help school districts find a use for spoiled food that might otherwise end up in landfills, say supporters, including Republican sponsor state Sen. Stacey Guerin, of Glenburn.

“In Maine, that was a common practice when I was growing up. Hog farmers would come to the back door and take the waste at the end of the day,” Guerin said. “I’m glad school administrators can do that with confidence now, without fear of breaking the law.”

The new rules state that any individual or institution, including a school, can donate garbage to a swine producer for use as feed even if they’re unaware of the producer’s licensure status. Guerin said the rule change made sense because the schools aren’t responsible for monitoring the license status of hog farms.

Donations to hog farmers will also help school districts reduce the cost of waste disposal, said Ryan Parker, a Newport resident and farmer who advocated for the bill. Parker has raised pigs of his own and said his hogs were happy to indulge on old milk.

“It’s one less thing they have to pay for — get the food waste out of the trash. And if you don’t have food waste in your trash, it doesn’t smell,” Parker said.

Unlike most kinds of livestock, pigs can digest human food waste fairly easily, said Bobby Acord, a consultant with the National Pork Producers Council.

“And pigs have a voracious appetite,” he said. “They eat whatever you put in front of them.”

The National Conference of State Legislatures said it’s unclear how many other states have laws like the one in Maine. The rules about feeding refuse to swine vary by jurisdiction. More than half the states allow garbage feeding, Acord said.

The hog farmers in Maine are required to have a license to feed pigs food waste, and the waste has to be cooked. Those rules, which exist to prevent the spread of diseases such as salmonella poisoning, remain in effect, state officials said.

Not all hog farmers in the state would be able to use the food waste because of the difficulty of collecting and cooking it, but it could still become a way for schools to reduce the amount of unused food they throw out, said Clark Souther, the president of Maine Pork Producers Association.

“Schools have an awful lot of scrap waste from the kitchen and from the tables. So it would add up,” Souther said.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Overcast

Abbeville

42°F Overcast Feels like 42°
Wind
0 mph
Humidity
93%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Areas of fog. Low 43F. Winds light and variable.
47°F Areas of fog. Low 43F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
4 mph W
Precip
10%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Gibbous
Clear

Crowley

44°F Clear Feels like 44°
Wind
0 mph
Humidity
89%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Clear skies. Low 43F. Winds light and variable.
47°F Clear skies. Low 43F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
4 mph W
Precip
10%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Gibbous
Clear

Opelousas

41°F Clear Feels like 41°
Wind
0 mph
Humidity
97%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Mostly clear. Low 42F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph.
47°F Mostly clear. Low 42F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
4 mph W
Precip
10%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Gibbous
Clear

Breaux Bridge

45°F Clear Feels like 45°
Wind
0 mph
Humidity
93%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Mostly clear. Low 42F. Winds light and variable.
47°F Mostly clear. Low 42F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
4 mph W
Precip
10%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Gibbous
Clear

New Iberia

43°F Clear Feels like 43°
Wind
0 mph
Humidity
100%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Clear but chilly. Low of 42. Calm winds
44°F Clear but chilly. Low of 42. Calm winds
Wind
2 mph WSW
Precip
0%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Gibbous

Sidebar

Trending Stories