FFA teen entrepreneur brings local pork to the plate

FALLON - When Churchill County High School senior Jake Baker saw a need for locally produced pork, he saw it not just as another FFA project, but as a business venture.

Baker, the local FFA president and recently elected state FFA president, heard from Lahontan Valley Meats that its Yerington pork supplier was going out of business and decided to enter the commercial pork production business.

He obtained a youth loan with the Farm Service Agency for $3,800 and purchased 50 pigs in January from a producer in Idaho who had always "cut him a deal" when selling Baker and his brother, Trevor, FFA project pigs.

Baker, the youngest of John and Marge Baker's eight kids, immediately sold 25 of the pigs to local 4-H and FFA students for show pigs. He said he gave his fellow students a good rate because he knows the costs of pigs can get expensive, plus his brother is now a 4-H pig group leader.

Most of the pigs were fattened up and sold to individual buyers who either purchase a half pig for $250 or a whole pig for $450. Buyers can choose their own meat packing company for custom cuts and let Baker do all the work.

"It all goes through me," he said, emphasizing the savings customers can realize by purchasing whole or half pigs.

"They're saving quite a bit of money," he said, "In the store customers would pay $700."

The meat delivered to customers is cut and wrapped - at about 35 cents cheaper per pound than from the grocery store.

Baker currently has eight whole pigs left to sell. That means he's sold 17 pigs this spring - while still in high school.

He has learned some lessons along the way, though, like the importance of taking customer deposits before purchasing the pigs. He had 15 verbal agreements to take pigs before he bought them, but the number dwindled once he received the animals. That prompted him to learn the valuable skill of marketing his products.

Baker said his desire to produce pork was sparked at the World Pork Expo in Iowa last year. He was so impressed with what he saw that he's planning to establish an operation there in the next few years ... after attending a Nevada college and an attempt at college baseball.

Why would a Nevada boy go all the way to Iowa to raise pigs?

"That's where the commodities are," he said. He wants to return to Nevada at some point to produce pork locally.

For now, he and Trevor are considering purchasing a meat locker and creating their own brand of pork.

"I'm trying to create a Fallon market for myself," he said.

Those interested in purchasing pork from Baker can reach him at (775) 427-8986.

• Contact reporter Christy Lattin at clattin@lahontanvalleynews.com.


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