Food and the Future!

Nearly one out of every eight people goes to bed hungry. That is 842 million people who don’t know where they will find their next meal. That is parents who go to work without a pay check big enough to pay for food. That is children dying because they aren’t able to scrounge for enough nutritious food. That is families torn apart simply because they don’t have access to food. As the population continues to grow, food insecurity becomes a bigger problem.

According to the World Health Organization, food security is built on three pillars. Food availability, food access and food use all are components of food security. Making sure there are sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis is food availability. Access to food involves having sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet. Lastly, use is defined by the knowledge of basic nutrition and care as well as adequate water and sanitation.

There are many debates about the amount of food available to adequately feed the world. The future needs of food, national food security related to global trade and the benefits and challenges involved with globalization are all involved.

I am lucky to have been born into a family who didn’t have to worry about where our next meal came from. Unfortunately, some people struggle daily to find food daily. They aren’t able to live a normal life, as their stomachs hunger for nutrition. As a society and world, we need to come up with innovative agriculture solutions to feed our growing population.

The Agriculture Innovation Prize sponsored by the Howard Buffett Foundation is one way in which we can help to solve the world’s food insecurity problems. The contest focuses on innovative ways to improve agriculture. That doesn’t just mean on the farm changes though. It encompasses the entire food system supply chain. Anything that involves land access and soil sustainability, agriculture production, distribution and aggregation, food processing and manufacturing, preparation-consumer and institutional products, and resource and waste recovery all encompass the contest.

Have an innovative agriculture idea? Think you have the next best way to solve a big problem related to farming, food, resources and waste? Please apply for the Agriculture Innovation Award. Details can be found at The entry deadline is February 28th, 2014. All you need for an entry is ten slides and a two page report. You could change the world with simply a ten slide entry and a few paragraphs explaining your idea.
Twenty five teams will be selected to compete in Madison, Wisconsin for the grand prize awards in April. There will be five winners. The grand prize winner will win $100,000 prize and the other four finalists will get $25,000 dollars. There will also be an audience choice award in the amount of $15,000.

I have been honored to be able to work with this project. Currently we are in the process of selecting speakers for the Key Note. I am not lying when I say that we are really dreaming big and aiming to get a large name to campus to provide inspiration for the contestants and audience.

Again, if you are interested or have an idea, big or small, that could change agriculture please visit and apply for this enormous award! You could make a difference in the lives of thousands of people who are affected by hunger.


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!