Farm Tours Create Ripple Effect

by Claire Masker

Erin Cortus
Erin Cortus, a South Dakota State University ag engineer, shares the care, science and technology of raising pigs.

Animal care, environmental sustainability and responsible antibiotic use are all questions consumers have about today’s pork production. To help answer these questions, the Pork Checkoff has been inviting influencers onto farms across the country.

“Sharing our farm story with influencers creates a ripple effect as they reach out to their consumer audiences with our messages.”
– Steve Rommereim, South Dakota

“During the past few years, we have taken the critical step of building consumer trust by offering farm tours to reach influencers,” said Steve Rommereim, vice president of the National Pork Board and a pork producer from Alcester, South Dakota.

“Sharing our farm story with influencers creates a ripple effect as they reach out to their consumers audiences with our messages,” Rommereim said. “Consumers trust influencers, such as registered dietitians and food bloggers.”

This year, five farms and the Checkoff offered a glimpse of life on a pig farm to more than 60 key influencers, including national journalists, registered dietitians and food bloggers. In addition to the Checkoff, hosts were Smithfield Hog Production, Missouri; Iowa Select Farms; Rommereim Farms, South Dakota; South Dakota State University; Wakefield Pork, Minnesota; and Pipestone Veterinary Services, Minnesota.

In May, registered dietitians
participated in a farm tour in Missouri where they learned about environmental sustainability.

Science Matters

Nearly 30 influential registered dietitians participated in three of the farm tours this year, including one held with Midwest Dairy in Minnesota during September.

“The science of raising pigs helps us connect with this audience,” said Adria Huseth, who is a registered dietitian and manager of nutrition communications and research for the Checkoff.

“When I joined the Pork Checkoff team, the majority of my conversations with health professionals involved the nutrient profile of pork and how it fits into a healthy lifestyle,” Huseth said. “But the conversation has shifted in the last couple of years to include discussions focused on pork production, animal well-being and sustainability.”

Lincoln Langhorst, owner of Wakefield Pork which hosted the registered dietitian tour in September, says that opening up farms to dietitians is a win-win.

“Targeting registered dietitians is important because their clients are asking them questions about how food is raised,” Langhorst said.

Registered dietitians play a key role in telling consumers what happens on pig farms.

According to Huseth, a survey is sent to each registered dietitian before and after a farm tour. Results of one are shown on page 26.

“We’ve seen an increase in how confident these influencers are in talking about pork production with their consumers,” said Huseth.

Farm-to-Fork Tour Resonates with Bloggers

For the third year, the Pass The Pork Tour showed food bloggers what it takes to raise pigs today, from insemination on a sow farm to learning about pigs rations made at an on-farm feed mill. The bloggers on this year’s tour reached nearly 14 million people with their online followers.

“Bloggers play a vital role in connecting consumers with their food and the farmers who raise it,” said Kevin Waetke, vice president of strategic communications for the Checkoff. “Providing these individuals with access to experts through an on-farm experience offers context and access to accurate information for their readers.”

The bloggers also participated in a pork fabrication demonstration and a cooking experience that showcased the versatility of pork across the menu.

before and after tour opinion graphic“I’m excited to share with my readers what I learned on the farm and the care and thought that goes into raising these animals for food,” said Lynne Feifer, who is from Phoenix and blogs at 365 Days of Baking and More. “I’m also excited to share with them all of the different ways that they can prepare pork for their families.”