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Pork Industry Helps Feed Hungry Americans

Television is full of pleas from charitable organizations for contributions to feed hungry children in Third World countries.

In fact, an estimated 12 million children or one in six are at risk of going hungry in America. That hazard is disproportionately high in rural America.

In response, the National Pork Board is partnering with “Share Our Strength” to make sure no child in America grows up hungry.

“America’s pork producers help to feed the world, so it’s a natural fit for us to work with Share Our Strength in its vision of ending childhood hunger,” states National Pork Board President Lynn Harrison, an Elk Mound, WI, pork producer. “Share Our Strength’s solid reputation with chefs and food professionals inspired us to look at how we could work together at a local level.”

This year the pork checkoff will support Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation events in six cities: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and New Orleans. The pork checkoff will assist in showcasing trend-setting recipes and a variety of pork products.

Vande Rose Farms of Oskaloosa, IA, and Grateful Growers Farms of Denver, NC, are donating the pork products that the chefs will prepare.

“We salute the National Pork Board for its engagement in this important mission and for its producers’ commitment to working with communities to make a tangible difference,” says Bill Shore, founder and executive director of Share Our Strength.

The story of hunger in America is amplified in the rural community. In 2001, 17.5% of all rural households with children didn’t enjoy a secure food supply, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

That’s more than one million children, notes Ceci Snyder, assistant vice president of consumer marketing for the National Pork Board. “Rural hunger is spurred by lower wages, unemployment and less access to nutritious food. Distance to a food store is often a significant issue as well,” she says.

Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation has been going strong since 1988, adds Snyder. Chefs donate their time at events ranging from black tie affairs to outdoor barbecues that attract 800 to 1,000 guests.

Vande Rose Farms is taking donations one- step further. “In addition to our 2008 sponsorships, Vande Rose Farms will donate one pound of pork to a local food bank for every person who attends Taste of the Nation events in each of our six markets,” says Snyder.

For more details on pork checkoff’s partnership with Share Our Strength, visit www.theotherwhitemeat.com.

Pork Board Hires Swine Health Veterinarian

The National Pork Board has announced the hiring of Lisa Becton, DVM, as director of Swine Health Information and Research.

Effective April 1, Becton will replace Pam Zaabel, DVM, who will continue to work with the Pork Board on specific projects.

Becton has served as the health assurance manager with Premium Standard Farms in Princeton, MO, since 1996.
She received her DVM degree from North Carolina State University in 1994.

Pork Quality Program Achieves Milestone

Reflecting a commitment to the U.S. pork industry and its customers, 10,000 pork producers have become certified in the Pork Quality Plus Assurance Program (PQA Plus).

The National Pork Board launched PQA Plus at the World Pork Expo in June 2007.

“We launched with the goal of having 5,000 PQA Plus certified individuals by the end of that year,” reports Tim Bierman, an Iowa pork producer and member of the Pork Board. “That first target was reached and program support has grown steadily since then. We consider it a success that 10,000 producers have become certified.”

Educating producers on PQA Plus spans about 28 states and more than 780 advisers/trainers. “We could not have reached these many producers without the tireless work of the PQA Plus advisors and trainers,” says Bierman. “Having the support of these highly educated individuals is additional proof that there is value in this program.”

Bierman attended PQA Plus training and was certified in October 2007. In November, he and his advisor performed the site assessment of Bierman Farms.

“In today’s world, most people don’t really want to know the details of my job. They just want to know that the pork I produce is safe and that the pigs are humanely cared for,” he says. “But while it used to be enough for me to do the right thing, today it’s important that I prove that I do the right thing.

“By becoming PQA Plus certified, packers, processors, restaurants and retailers can have the confidence in the safety of my product and the husbandry practices that I employ as I care for my animals,” notes Bierman. “It’s a step toward gaining their trust.”

Bierman and other members of the National Pork Board know the value of gaining the trust from consumers, which has served as the impetus for developing an image-building program for the industry.

One such effort, the Statement of Ethical Principles for U.S. Pork Producers, was announced at the Pork Industry Forum in early March in St. Louis, MO.

“The statement of ethical principles, PQA Plus, the Transport Quality Assurance program and the responsible use of antibiotics program (Take Care) are proof of our commitment to producing safe pork and prioritizing the well-being of our animals and the development of our communities. But without producer support, these programs don’t mean anything.

“Producers have the tools to satisfy customers’ concerns and show consumers that we are accountable for our actions. The programs are voluntary and it’s up to us to receive the training and make sure we are following good production practices,” says Bierman.

Pork producers from 43 states voted at the Pork Industry Forum to support PQA Plus and direct the Pork Board to ask all U.S. pork producers to participate in the program within the next three years.