Pork Producers Care

My pigs loved to get attention. Although my pigs were 4-H projects for the county fair, they still were harvested for meat at the end of the fair and entered into the food chain. My pigs, like pigs across the US are cared for from birth until harvest!

My pigs loved to get attention. Although my pigs were 4-H projects for the county fair, they still were harvested for meat at the end of the fair and entered into the food chain. My pigs, like pigs across the US are cared for from birth until harvest!

My dad often says, “I know more about my animal’s health records, medications and diet than I know about my own children’s health records.” Most people would be shocked by that statement; how could a father not know about his own children’s medical records and diets? That statement shows just how much farmers care. They don’t have an occupation in which you leave the office and forget about the week’s work. My dad works with our nutritionist to make sure our pigs are on the right diet and our veterinarian to ensure they are getting any antibiotics for health problems. My dad and other farmers are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Farmers receive certification and abide by the, “we care” motto, making sure they care for their animals, the environment, community and food safety. They continue to receive education that will help them provide the best possible care for animals and they work with veterinarians and nutritionists to make sure their hogs are receiving the best care possible at all times.

Farmers and other people involved in pork production ensure animal well-being, worker and food safety all the time. Their occupation is unique because they aren’t able to forget about work when they go home at the end of the day, they are concerned for the well-being of their animals all the time. All individuals in the pork supply chain play an important role in responsible pork production because all individuals care. We Care

I learned the importance of this during the summers of my youth, my siblings and I were pretend farmers. We had animals for the county and state fair and we would wake up when the chickens started crowing, trounce out to the barn to lead, walk, wash and fed all the hogs. Yes, getting animals ready for the fair is a bit different than a production farm, but farmers on production farms care for their animals all the same. They have health records, know their production numbers and are prepared to nurture them just like their own children.

Pork producers go beyond just caring for their animals though. The pork industry developed a producer education and certification program to ensure U.S. pork products are safe, high quality and animals are raised in a way ensuring their well-being. Many pork farmers are PQA Plus (Pork Quality Assurance Plus) trained. This training provides farmers with additional tools and knowledge to help them to properly take care of their animals.

As I was growing up, I compared the way I treated my pigs and the way many farmers treat their animals to how humans treat their children. I always found it interesting that parents don’t need certification and there are no inspections before children can be brought home. Pig farmers are encouraged to be PQA Plus trained; veterinarians and nutritionists visit the farms often and the We Care program ties sustainability, education and animal well-being all together. It’s okay that my dad knows more about my hogs medical and food needs than mine, because it shows the dedication that farmers have to their animals’ well-being and the safety of the product they produce.

I look forward to going to the grocery store knowing that I will have healthy, safe, and nutritious pork products to purchase. I know that the animals were well taken care of from start to finish, farmers work with veterinarians and nutritionists to keep hogs healthy, workers to keep farms safe, and environmental groups help to ensure sustainability. I trust in pork farmers and know I will have safe products to eat. Please join me in enjoying pork products in your next meal in celebration of National Pork Month!

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Growing Population

The constant struggle between feeding the world while still meeting regulations and consumer expectations is a challenge. Chris Ashworth, chairman of the Animal Agriculture Alliance and technical service veterinarian for Elanco Animal Health said, “We are moving into an age when the next wars will be over food.” People are more concerned with the source of their food and how it was produced than ever before and more and more people have an opinion on food, as there are millions moving into the middle class where they have more choices related to food.
While population continues to grow and will surpass the 9 billion people mark by 2050, we will require 100% more food with 70% coming from efficiency-improving technology. Ashworth continued and stated, “Technology is a vital ingredient in making food safe, abundant and affordable.”
The article, found at http://www.wctrib.com/content/animal-science-conference-wrangles-food-production-challenges-opportunities was extremely educational and opened my eyes to some of the facts people are using to purchase food products. Consumers buy from modern, conventional farms with reasons for purchase being taste, cost and nutrition. 95% of people want to purchase the cheapest food, and as producers we need to be sure not to let the remaining five percent speak for our industry. The other 5% has had a strong voice, but we need to be open to conversations and willing to educate them about benefits of agricultural technologies.
The article was a great educational tool with some interesting facts. I look forward to using the facts as I agvocate with the College Aggies Online Competition. Be sure to follow me on twitter @KateGriswold!