Kinky Has A Point…

Article by MySA.com

Grass-fed beef, cage-free chickens, and … feral hogs?

As meat prices rise, a candidate for agriculture commissioner is proposing beefing up the state’s program to harvest and market wild hog meat in a way he says will create jobs and revenue for Texas.

Kinky Friedman, a Democrat running for the statewide office, is proposing beefing up the state’s program to harvest and market wild hog meat in a way he says will create jobs and revenue for Texas.

Kinky Friedman, a Democrat running for the statewide office, is proposing beefing up the state’s program to harvest and market wild hog meat in a way he says will create jobs and revenue for Texas.

Kinky Friedman, a Democrat running for the statewide office, said feral hogs are a largely untapped industry that could be a lucrative endeavor for the state rather than a waste of life.

“If you are going to kill a bunch of feral hogs, let’s at least do it for a profit and business for the state,” he said. “To kill all these hogs and let them rot doesn’t make sense.”

Wild pigs are one of the biggest problems for many ranch and landowners in Texas, said Billy Higginbotham, professor and extension wildlife fishery specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

The population in Texas has increased by about 20 percent each year because hogs have the “highest reproductive rate of any large mammal in the world,” he said. Some food banks and small grocers in the state and country sell the meat, which is described by the state’s Parks and Wildlife service as “tasty” and lean.

Land owners and hunters can trap and sell the live animals to about 100 buying stations in the state, which are licensed and regulated by the Texas Animal Health Commission, where they are inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture before the hogs are slaughtered and sold. The stations currently buy the pigs from land owners and trappers for about 30 cents per pound.

The meat is sold to processing plants, which sell the pork for human consumption across the country and in Europe and Asia, Higginbotham said.

This image shows all the pieces of a feral hog after butchering and ready for further processing or cooking.

This image shows all the pieces of a feral hog after butchering and ready for further processing or cooking.

“Texas is literally able to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear,” he said, adding that 460,000 hogs in Texas were federally inspected, slaughtered and sold between 2004-2009.

The state, however, does not pull any taxes or revenue from the transactions of the buyback program, which is the only of its kind in the country.

Friedman, a songwriter and entertainer, said the program is a good start, but the state should become more involved and broaden the program and rake some of the profits. An addition of meat to the market could help keep prices low, said Friedman, who will face Cleburne farmer and insurance agent Jim Hogan in a runoff election May 27.

Beef and pork prices have sharply risen in recent weeks because of a pig virus and drought in the southwest.

Feral hogs, which range from 60 pounds to more than 200 pounds, cause damage to crops and pastures, transmit diseases to livestock, destroy urban and suburban greenscapes such as golf courses, athletic fields and parks and pose threats for collisions for drivers on highways such as Texas 130.

Kinky Friedman, a Democrat running for the statewide office, is proposing beefing up the state’s program to harvest and market wild hog meat in a way he says will create jobs and revenue for Texas. Photo: JERRY LARA, San Antonio Express-News / SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

Photo By JERRY LARA/San Antonio Express-News

Hog hunting also is a very popular sport in rural areas, but many of the hunters are not able to sell the meat because of federal regulations. Some food banks and small grocers around the state also sell wild hog meat.

Wild pigs are unprotected by the state, “meaning they may be taken by any means or methods at any time of year” according to Texas Parks and Wildlife.

There are no seasons or bag limits, however a hunting license and landowner permission are required to hunt them, the agency said.

“Or we could hire Ted Nugent and a helicopter (to kill the hogs), and do it that way,” Friedman said.

kparker@express-news.net

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