Musings of a Pig Farmer
by Larry Sailer
Over the last decade – most likely a result of fewer people being personally engaged in production agriculture – there has been a growing trend for consumers to know where their food comes from and how it was raised. Recent food controversies have brought this issue to light once again.
A headline in yesterday’s issue of The Des Moines Register read, “More consumers asking for details about their food.” The article goes onto to state, “If it is meat, many want to know where the animal was raised and how it was fed. If it is produce, they want to know what, if any, chemicals were used to grow and ship it or whether a local farmer tended the fruits and vegetables on their plates.”
As an Iowa pig farmer, I’m happy to meet with groups about how and why I raise livestock. Talking with consumers to foster understanding is the primary reason I’m active in Operation Main Street, a speaker corps for National Pork Board, which controls pork check-off funds. Funds are raised when pork producers give a small portion of their income from selling hogs for three things: promotion, research and education.
Operation Main Street speakers have given 5,352 speeches to 156,711 people in nearly every state. I’ve been a member of the group for five years and have given over 50 presentations to Iowa civic groups. In just the past week, I’ve spoken with groups in Green Mountain and Waterloo, Iowa. The folks have always been very receptive of the information and when I explain why I raise pigs the way I do they understand why I do what I do.
It’s a lot of fun learning about many civic groups that I didn’t even know existed. (Yep, I need to get off the farm more!) A few of the groups I either have spoken or would like to speak to include: Lions Clubs International, Optimist Club, Rotary International, Kiwanis International, Civitan, Jaycees, Exchange Club, Ruritan National, Community Club, Sertoma, Ambucs, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Associations (NARFE), Chamber of Commerce, Masons, High 12 Club, Iowa Dietetic Association, veterinary schools, high school food classes.
I’m impressed with the number of clubs that exist to do good deeds and want to hear me speak, but my job is not yet done. As The Register says, more people than ever are taking an interest in learning where there food comes from and how it’s produced. That means I must give a lot more speeches. I’m looking forward to it because that also means I have more friends out there to discover!