October is pork month. National Hog Farmer is honored to serve as the business magazine of the pork industry and we are proud of our hard-working pork producer readers. While covering the news, it has been a bit discouraging to see all of the energy that being poured into attacks on the pork industry lately. In an article in the Huffington Post this week, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) officials bragged about having 25 full-time lawyers on staff, with another 2,000 lawyers working on HSUS issues on a pro-bono basis. Some of these lawyers are working on cases such as the lawsuit charging that the National Pork Board struck an unlawful deal with the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC)  for the purchase of the “Pork. The Other White Meat” slogan. Pork producers are also well-aware of the HSUS’s recent focus on gestation stalls.
However, there is good news to report too. The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) reported this week that consumer attitudes about how food is raised can be improved  if consumers simply learn more from credible sources, such as farmers, about the positive implications resulting from modern agricultural practices.
An online survey of 2,001 people measured consumer attitudes toward five technologies commonly used in today’s farming systems. Attitudes were measured again after the participants were given information from credible sources detailing the animal well-being, environmental or social benefits of those practices. When consumers received the facts, the study showed double-digit increases in positive attitudes toward antibiotic use in meat animals and indoor food production, for example.
Some of the messages that were the most effective in changing consumer attitudes would be considered basic information to those familiar with modern farming techniques. For example, informing survey participants that raising food animals indoors protects them from predators and bad weather resulted in a significant improvement in positive attitudes. “This might be painfully obvious to some, but if we don’t talk about these positive attributes they may not be perceived as benefits by a public that is largely unfamiliar with agriculture,” explains Charlie Arnot, CEO at CFI.
Which brings us back to Pork Month. Many state and local pork producers are working particularly hard this month to share positive messages about pork and the people who are producing it every day. This week the National Hog Farmer Web site is featuring a story about how the North Carolina Pork Council will be using a goodwill ambassador at the upcoming North Carolina State Fair  to bring attention to the positive benefits stemming from that state’s pork industry. A variety of festivals and events throughout the year also promote our favorite meat protein. National Hog Farmer would like to share more of these positive pork stories. Send us your stories and pictures so we can post them in our new “Every Month is Pork Month” section to help share your good news about this great industry. Email your good news to [email protected] . Tell us your positive story. Happy Pork Month!