The holiday season is full of traditions, from families gathering to enjoy a ham dinner to outlining houses and barns with bright lights. For America’s pork producers, traditions are on display year-round. As we head into 2018, examples of traditions old and new include:
- Tradition of paying it forward – Lending a helping hand in their communities or half-way across the country during a natural disaster is nothing new for pig farmers. But for the last two years, pork producers have adopted another tradition of paying it forward – #HamsAcrossAmerica.
- Tradition of doing what’s best for people, pigs and the planet – This has been business-as-usual for pig farmers for decades. For example, more than 50 years of progress has cut water use by 41 percent, land use by 78 percent and the carbon footprint by 35 percent to produce a pound of pork. The six We CareSM principles, which will celebrate 10 years in 2018, communicate to consumers that producers are doing the right thing every day in their barns.
- Tradition of offering consumers the best eating experience – In 1966, 90 producers from 11 states – the “Moline 90” – met to launch a voluntary national Checkoff and to plant the seeds to develop a more meat-type hog. Ever since producers have remained focused on improving consumers’ eating experience. In 2018, that includes stressing lower cooking endpoint temperature, promoting pork cuts names and improving pork’s quality attributes of color and marbling.
- Tradition of leading the conversation – From reducing the need for antibiotic use on the farm to exploring disease control and other possibilities that gene editing offers, pork producers are part of the discussion. Preserving the critical ability to prevent disease with all currently available tools is important to raising healthy pigs in a responsible way.
- Tradition of opening the barn doors – With less than 2 percent of Americans involved in farming, pig farmers’ efforts to be transparent is more important than ever. Producers are opening the barn doors through Operation Main Street presentations, #RealPigFarming social media posts and barn tours for dietitians, bloggers and media. The America’s Pig Farmer of the Year® and the Pig Farmers of Tomorrow programs also are putting a face on pig farming.
- Tradition of coloring outside the lines – Putting new ideas into practice is a hallmark of the pork industry. In 2018, that includes a new business-to-business marketing strategy and new ideas from the Pork Checkoff’s digital marketing team.
The new year holds promise as pork producers continue to build on all of these traditions, as well as to introduce some new ones. Happy New Year from all of us at the Pork Checkoff.
– Jan Jorgensen, Editor