Take a stand, before you fall for anything

Fall is a wonderful time of the year with harvest, baseball’s World Series, football season and our youth are back at school K-PhD.

I don’t miss high school or college, but I do yearn for those days, and all that the college experience brought with it. U.S. colleges and universities offer wonderful opportunities for the exchange of knowledge and information.

Land-grant universities are some of the best sources for groundbreaking research, much of which you will find in issues of the National Hog Farmer. We rely on the professors and researchers to provide great information for our readers on the ever-changing swine industry when it comes to nutrition, genetics, reproduction and biosecurity, just to name a few. As an example, check out the October Blueprint edition of National Hog Farmer as researchers present various projects concerning the lifetime productivity of the sow herd.

U.S. colleges and universities are indeed avenues of high learning, but sadly they also provide a breeding ground for a higher level of misinformation and misleading information.

A family friend’s son is attending a Minnesota university, and he recently posted on social media images from a pamphlet that he had received. He shared two pictures from the handout, one of a sickly piglet, and the other of a sow that appears to be in a cramped farrowing crate.

Fortunately, this young man knows the truth, as he has worked in hog barns. He shared on social media a picture of himself holding a very healthy looking piglet. This young man has the luxury of knowing the drivel that the pamphlet and the organization behind it is peddling. Unfortunately, too many of the masses attending our colleges and universities suffer severe agriculture disconnect.

I fear that the majority receiving such pamphlets actually kindly accepted them, perused them, and quite possibly started to believe what they read and saw.

As for our friends’ son — he kindly accepted the pamphlet and promptly placed it in File 13. He opted to accept the nonsense-in-ink rather than deny it, lest some other less-informed student receive it and get sucked into the anti-animal agriculture propaganda.

His actions were one small stand against such propaganda, and we need more voices to carry on against what seems like a larger and louder chorus attempting to derail our efforts to feed the world. Hog producers have been doing a great job opening up their barn worlds to the outside world in an effort to educate and inform the general public and consumers about real life issues faced in livestock production.

But, there needs to be a voice on the collegiate level, and the National Pork Board has possibly come up with just the perfect vehicle. On the heels of naming Brad Greenway of South Dakota as America’s Pig Farmer of the Year earlier this month, the NPB has now announced the search for Pig Farmers of Tomorrow.

Farm leaders between the ages of 18-29 are encouraged to apply by Nov. 22 for the program that intends to recognize, inspire and connect the next generation of American pig farmers. Applicants should intend to make pig farming their life’s work, and should be committed to the U.S. pork industry and to raising pigs using the We Care ethical principles. Current college students are encouraged to apply at PigFarmersofTomorrow.com.

This inaugural year for the award will have up to three award recipients, and they will have the opportunity to speak at NPB events, but I think more importantly they will be responsible for providing social media content via #RealPigFarming.

Networking is a big part of adult life, but the seeds are planted long before we hit the working world. Yes, college students are prone to hang in groups of people with similar likes and dislikes. But diversity makes for a whole person, and farm-based youth more than likely have befriended someone or many others from the opposite end of the career spectrum. These relationships can be fruitful for a well-spoken, confident young person looking to be Pig Farmers of Tomorrow.

All industries bring with them peripheral tasks that aren’t mentioned in a job description. Industry spokesperson has become a big part of pork production. What better way to win over young consumers, or maybe even gain a few new pork consumers, than hearing from peers all the wonderful benefits the U.S. pork industry provides.

Stand up for the pork industry, or fall behind. 

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