It’s all about the producer and the productIt’s all about the producer and the product
Consumers should take time during Pork Month to learn how much pork producers care all year long.
October 22, 2018
Emma Lasco is a busy gal, saying October is probably her busy month of the year as territory manager for Smithfield Foods in north central Iowa.
“We’re turning a lot of sites, selling pigs and getting new pigs into the sites,” she says. She oversees 31 sites with about 150,000 pig spaces.
The timing is appropriate with October being designated Pork Month since that was traditionally the month when most hogs were marketed. It’s also appropriate that Lasco is a busy gal, since she is one of the latest classes of Pig Farmers of Tomorrow, along with Adam Krause and Christine Snowden.
“This has been a really good experience for me,” she says. “It just opened a lot of networking opportunities and making connections, whether they’re with allied industry or other producers.”
She also has become more involved within Smithfield through its outreach program, as well as working with Iowa Pork Producers Council, Iowa Cattlemen and Iowa Corn “to promote the pork industry.” She is also working with pork producer organizations in Illinois and Wisconsin to understand the industry in those states and attend various conferences throughout the year of her “term” as a Pig Farmer of Tomorrow.
Though she’s been busy this year, she anticipates her pork promotion to continue once the next class of Pig Farmers of Tomorrow take their place. “The reason that I got involved in this is because I have such a passion for the pork industry. It’s nice to be on the farms in the barns with the pigs and being able to share that experience on social media,” she says. “I’m definitely not going away; it’s a passion that I have.”
Not truly knowing what to expect when she became one of the PFTs this year, she appreciates the resources that the National Pork Board provided her and her “classmates.” “We have been asked to sit on a sustainability committee,” she says, “that’s something I didn’t really expect, but it was a nice outcome.”
Lasco, Snowden and Krause were introduced as the PFTs at last spring’s Pork Industry Forum, which is the annual meetings for the NPB and the National Pork Producers Council, whetting the appetite of leadership in Lasco. “I think we went into this as a way to build up this industry, whether it’s in Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota or any of the 50 states,” she says. “My goal is definitely to get there (Pork Forum) someday, and if it’s not as a delegate for my state, then to be able to provide a voice for the people who are in the barns 365 days a year who may not be able to get to events like that.”
Her parents raised her to know how to work hard “and to move your way up.” That wasn’t in an agriculture setting, but attending Iowa State University exposed Lasco to agriculture and on-farm experiences, as well as working around people in the industry. “Growing up, I never thought that I would be having these experiences.”
Lasco takes to heart the name of this program, telling prospective Pig Farmers of Tomorrow applicants, “we’re the future of this industry, if you have the passion for that, share that. People who don’t have the privilege to be in the barn each day with livestock and helping to feed the world, that they can understand that, help share that passion.”
Having grown up in an urban area in northeast Illinois, Lasco feels she has an advantage when spreading the pork industry’s message to consumers, many of who have never set foot on a hog farm. “A lot of my followers on social media are not from farms, so being able to show them what goes on in the barn with pictures or videos is great,” she says. Facebook and Instagram are her favorite platforms to help tell her story and show the inside of barns.
She looks back on her first Facebook post as a Pig Farmer of Tomorrow, introducing herself as a member of the Smithfield team and part of producing a sustainable protein product for global consumers. “I got some negative reviews from that, people wondering how can you produce a sustainable protein product,” she says. Realizing she may not win over everybody in the social media world of 10-second sound bites, she is still open having these discussions and reaching common ground. “Any time and any kind of information that we can get out there is a win. We need to get the word out there that we care.”
Her Pork Month message for the world is that “if there are 31 days set aside to honor the pork producers who work 365 days a year to produce a great product, you should take the time to find out everything you can about these farmers who care for their animals as much as they do.”
Considering that great product she and all producers toil over, Lasco’s go-to cut is a flavored loin, accompanied with bacon-wrapped asparagus.
Lasco’s passion for the pork industry shows through her work, and her message, and getting more involved in the industry. “There are so many issues that affect you in your barn that you need to be involved. That’s their livelihood.”
About the Author(s)
You May Also Like
Current Conditions for
New York, NY
Enter a zip code to see the weather conditions for a different location.