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.
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!