To be rather than to seem

John and Eileen Langdon

Head down any gravel road in hog country, and you’ll find producers that put words into actions when it comes to the pork industry’s We CareSM initiative. Take John Langdon, for instance. Even after a long day of planting corn, the Benson, North Carolina, producer is ready – and excited – to talk about We Care and what it has grown to mean to pig farmers and consumers over the last 10 years.

“As pork producers today, we better be everything that we say we are.”
– John Langdon, North Carolina

I recently caught up with Langdon during his break from spring work on the farm where he and his wife, Eileen, and their family raise hogs, cattle, corn and other crops. In lock-step with the nation’s other pig farmers, the Langdons embrace We Care’s six ethical principles, living them every day in their barns and in their community.

The Langdons don’t play favorites either, giving each principle its full due. They focus on doing what’s best for people, pigs and the planet when it comes to animal well-being, employee care, food safety, the environment, public health and their community.

“We want to meet customer expectations and answer their questions to build confidence in the food that they put on their tables,” Langdon said. “I look at our state motto, ‘Esse quam videri,’ which means ‘to be rather than to seem.’ As pork producers today, we better be everything that we say we are. We need to walk the talk, or we lose credibility with our neighbors and with our customers, both in the U.S. and around the world.”

Little things done right are what make a big difference, according to Eileen, who is a veterinarian in a mixed animal practice.

“We all want a healthy end product, so that means starting with a healthy pig,” she said. “We want to keep pigs healthy throughout the finishing process so we can produce safe, wholesome products.”

She points to the importance of everything from ensuring animals are stocked properly to checking pigs daily to look for early health issues.

“As farmers, we all want what’s best for the animals that we raise,” she said. “With the new veterinary feed directive, producers and their veterinarians are working together more on prevention, and that’s a positive thing.”

As producers look toward taking We Care to the next level, “to be rather than to seem” will surely continue to serve as a guide.

– Jan Jorgensen, Editor