A week ago, we were all packing our bags, traveling to Iowa and looking forward to everything pigs, great conversations and wonderful people. World Pork Expo is certainly a jam-packed event. It can be overwhelming as you try to absorb all activities across the fairgrounds offered in 2.5 days.
Whether this was your first Expo or your 30th, it was hard not to walk away with sore feet, many “what-ifs” swirling around in your head and feeling the strength of the pork industry — the people. Yes, World Pork Expo is a gathering of a family — the pork family. While the way you raise your pigs or the location of your farm varies, the core values of the pork family — honestly, on the whole — do not.
As you see people filling tents for a discussion over the hog market, trade and tariffs; you know the trade situation is on everyone’s mind. After all, barriers in the marketplace can impact your bottom-line.
However, deep into conversations, I can see the optimistic spirit still gleaming in America’s pig farmers’ eyes. The U.S. swine business has many reasons to be proud. Together, you raise the safest, wholesome pork in the most-efficient manner in the world. Something political rhetoric cannot take away from you.
As Gregg Doud explains during the National Pork Producers Council luncheon, “other countries understand the political power of U.S. agriculture.” They know how to get the United States’ attention, and that is to pick on a big dog — U.S. agriculture and in particular the top animal protein export: U.S. pork.
When your actions are bold, when your product is enjoyed around the world; it becomes a target.
So, as I walked across the fairgrounds gathering all information useful in keeping America’s pig farmers moving forward, I am reminded of a valuable lesson — going forward starts with one step, one smile and one vision.
When we hesitate to take the first step, let situations permanently remove our smile or lose sight of the bigger picture then the fear, tough times and political rhetoric wins.
Together, let’s help each other in the pork family to keep moving forward with resilience and not let actions of others or situations rob you of your optimistic spirit.