After spending a few days last week with pork producers from across the country at the annual Pork Forum, it was clear that they care. They care about the livestock under their watch; that is job No. 1. Pig care comes first.
A close second, they take care of one another. As a variety of different things came up during Forum, some being family health related, the pork “tribe” (as National Hog Farmer Editor Cheryl Day referred to them in her blog earlier this week) truly think of their fellow producers as one big family.
This sense of family goes beyond the swine industry, as all livestock producers are a kindred spirit; we have to be since there are so few us on the land anymore. We need to pull together to stick together, or there’s no one left to support you.
That was evidenced again this week as news spread of wildfires devastating more than a million acres across Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, and taking everything in their path — homes, buildings, livestock. While flames still burn across rangeland, social media is lit up with semi-loads of hay making their way to cattlemen and herds in need.
Though cattle producers have been hit the hardest by the wildfires, it has been reported that an Oklahoma Smithfield Foods farm was “devastated” by fires. The total number of hogs lost was not available. In a statement, Smithfield spokeswoman Kathleen Kirkham says, “While we are deeply thankful that no employees were harmed in the fire, we lament the unnecessary loss of animals and the devastation to the surrounding community.” Two Seaboard Foods farms in the Texas Panhandle were also destroyed by wildfires. “Our No. 1 priority is the safety and well-being of our employees. Unfortunately, we lost some pigs on the farms, but we are grateful our employees are safe and appreciate the measures they took to protect the farms,” says Stephen Summerlin, Seaboard Foods senior vice president of operations. “However, with a wildfire this size and unfavorable weather conditions, there is little that can be done to stop the fires, and our focus is to make sure our employees remain safe.”
Producers are producers, regardless what species is under their care, and they are prone to help their friends in need. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has compiled a list of fire relief resources.
There are producers in need of hay, equipment, fencing materials, and maybe just moral support. These producers need help from ones who truly understand what the devastation means. They need help from other producers. That’s what family does; they care for others.