What makes the U.S. pork industry so great? The mouth-watering pork, dripping with rich barbeque sauce, smoked over a bed of precisely heated wood chips.
The adorable piglets that jollity greets you upon arrival to the barns.Perhaps. What is not to love about sinking your teeth into a good tasty cut of pork or interacting with pigs?
Ok. Maybe it is the bacon.
NO! honestly, it is the people!
The compassionate, warm-hearted people who work in the barns every day. The people who work in supporting businesses, caring to advance the pork industry beyond making a profit. It is the people who step up to lead, working tirelessly to tell the pig farming story, promoting the goodness of pork and dedicate hundreds of hours to ensure farmers have the freedom to operate.
As I attend meetings and interact with pig farmers, I am reminded how lucky I am to be allowed in your circle, trusting me with your stories.
Stepping back, here is what makes pig farmers special.
Selfless leaders: It doesn’t matter if you are the leader of a national organization or a volunteer hosting a group of kids, pig farmers put their personal needs aside. You think about the bigger picture. How to move the industry forward by doing your part. You do not get caught up in what people think of you or making a mistake.
As leaders, I watch you make decisions for the betterment of every pork producer not what is right for just your farm. The ability to leave your personal agenda at the door is honestly a superpower many will not master.
Try something new: Farmers are often portrayed as behind their urban neighbors. However, I am amazed every day with the innovation, new technology and forward-thinking utilized in and out of the swine barns. Approaching tasks the same way day-in and day-out only deliver the same results. Realizing things need to change is the first step in enhancing any business and also the industry.
Open to share: While everyone walks away with valuable information and insight from presentations and educational seminars, the real-life education comes from the one-on-one conversations. Like a consumer can learn more about pig farming by discussing it one-on-one, you can learn a lot from hallway chats with fellow producers. What is great about the pork community is what producers are willing to share with essentially their competitors just to help the entire industry.
Cultivating others: As leaders share their stories with me, I frequently hear about the one person who inspired them to lead. In pork leadership camp, you often hear many people inspire them to lead and, more importantly, guide them during their leadership journey.
If you are reading this and you think every time I attend a pork meeting I get lost in the crowd or I am just filling a seat, then I challenge you to be more engaged. Realistically, not everyone is going to agree with your opinion. However, if you do not respectfully share your perspective and work on the issues together, then it hinders the industry from evolving positively.
As NPPC president, Ken Maschhoff, tells me, if you don’t volunteer there is no one standing in line to do it for you. As he wisely says, “If we are not willing to roll up our sleeves and demonstrate our compassion and commitment to ensure the issues and policies that affect our ability and freedoms to operate effectively and efficiently are protected, no one is waiting to do that for us.”
In today’s world, it is often hard to find a few good people who can set their personal agenda aside and work for the common interest. Many grassroots organizations are filled with members and frankly leaders ready to advance their personal agenda without stopping to think how it affects the entire industry.
So, when you find a legacy of leaders that demonstrates this time after time in one organization, you take notice, and if I were a pig farmer, I would proudly join and get involved.