The opportunity to show a journalist from the Washington Post around a sow farm is rare, but imagine if that reporter also was in the company of staff from CNN, USA Today, National Public Radio, the Huffington Post and a host of regional press.
“I appreciate the help and plan on following up with some stories soon. I found the week in Des Moines incredibly informative and helpful.”
– Kristofor Husted, KBIA radio and a contributor to National Public Radio
That is exactly what happened May 16 when 20 journalists affiliated with the National Press Foundation (NPF) arrived in Iowa for a four-day agriculture immersion tour. The Pork Checkoff teamed with DuPont Pioneer to welcome the journalists, who each applied to be a part of the experience.
“Hosting the tour allowed us to share the message of responsible pork production with highly influential, well-traveled journalists,” said John Johnson, chief operating officer of the Pork Checkoff. “We are starting to see this investment pay off with enlightening articles centered on the current state of increasing pork production and packing capacity.”
This is the second year that the National Pork Board has coordinated an event with the NPF, a non-profit organization that educates journalists on complex issues. According to NPF President Sandy Johnson, the organization educates through staging professional development opportunities all across the United States.
As part of the tour, participants visited Iowa Select Farms’ new 6,200-sow farm near Humeston, Iowa. Participants learned about the state-of-the-art air filtration systems that keep pigs healthy, as well as the diverse sow housing systems and the farrowing process.
“Iowa Select Farms is committed to being open and transparent about what happens on our farms,” said Jen Sorensen, the farm’s director of communications.
The journalists also took part in a Butcher Shop 101 event conducted by Neel Sahni, foodservice marketing, and innovation manager for the Pork Checkoff. The reporters could see precisely where today’s pork cuts originate on the pig and how they are packaged and displayed in meatcases and on menus. The demonstration highlighted both the versatility of the pig and why pork demand is growing.
Nationally renowned expert Mike Apley, DVM, Kansas State University, updated the journalists on the issue of antibiotic resistance.
“The discussion was very beneficial for the journalists,” said Johnson. “They seemed to appreciate learning about the complex issue and the pork industry’s commitment to antibiotic stewardship.”