U.S. pork producers are partnering with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) to provide pork for victims of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern sections of Japan on March 11. Estimates are that more than a half million Japanese residents are without adequate food and shelter. Food shortages are expected to last into the summer months.
On behalf of U.S. pork producers and importers, the National Pork Board has allocated $100,000 from the Pork Checkoff to provide pork product and to help get it distributed to those in need in Japan, said Conley Nelson, a pork producer from Iowa and a member of the National Pork Board. USMEF, which represents the U.S. meat industry in Japan from its office in Tokyo, will work with U.S. pork packers and others who have established distribution networks in Japan to make sure the food gets to those who need it.
The goal of the outreach program is to ensure that food requiring little or no preparation – such as pre-made bento (lunch) boxes – can be provided to people who have been displaced.
I’ve had many unique and educational experiences in the pork industry. However, I am not done learning yet! Searching on the Internet, I came across an ad for “Gerlach Show Pigs, Brokerage and Commodities.” Show pigs? I had always wondered how people ended up in the show livestock industry. I also thought about possibly providing show stock for FFA and 4-H members someday in my future. I knew this was going to be a great learning opportunity for me!
After slowly making my way out to Clatonia, Neb., and almost getting lost twice, I ended up at the Gerlach’s house. When I had walked in, the first thing I had noticed was the numerous screens around the office, covered with information about the current commodity prices of livestock and crops. I sat down and pulled out my question sheet and I asked Rick, “How did you get started in the show hog industry?” I learned that he had worked with hogs his whole life. Once he had graduated school, he had a small commercial hog operation that, due to the economy, wasn’t working out for his small operation like he had hoped. So, he kept what he felt was the best 14 sows out of his herd of 1000 sows and started a breeding operation.
He has about 200 head of hogs on the property at a given time, with 70 of those being his breeding stock. He keeps two boars on his property for the sole purpose of heat checking the sows, but otherwise he uses artificial insemination to breed. The breeds he works with were mostly Yorkshire and Duroc with some spotted breeds and composite breeds mixed in.
I also learned about the nutrition regiment he had his hogs on. The sows were on shelled corn and sow cubes. The piglets diet is supplemented with milk replacer shortly after birth. Once the hogs were being fitted and prepared for showing, they were put on Showmaster feed.
Ryan Mead visits students at Twin River Elementary where they learned how pigs are cared for and got to see a weaned pig.
Unlike Ronald Regan in the mid 1980’s with his theory of “trickle-down economics” that referred to the policy of providing across the board tax cuts or benefits to businesses in the belief that this will indirectly benefit the broad population, our plan works just the opposite. We call it “Trickle-Up Education”.
The goal was big, but the plan was simple. Our goal was to introduce animal agriculture into every classroom and allow teachers to create more with their current curriculum needs. We wanted the students ‘lessons’ to come alive.
It began by asking how animal agriculture currently existed in today’s classrooms and imagining us creating a catalyst or spark. The by-product of this spark would be an environment where students think creativity and discussion is open and free. The answer was to let every student experience, with all their senses, a three week old pig. The plan was simple, yet so revolutionary in the classroom.
When you walk into an elementary school with a wean pig, you are an instant hit. What’s his name? Why is his tail so short? How often do you take him for a walk? The myriad of questions range from the “innocent” to “very challenging”. As pork producers, we know where we have been and where we are going. However, we haven’t always been good at communicating this to our communities, neighbors and most of all, the student and leaders of tomorrow.
On Thursday, February 3, I shadowed Kyla and Mallory on an Animal Agriculture Promotion school visit. This program is fairly new, and it is in response to the recent attacks on and misconceptions about animal agriculture. On the day that I joined them we went to the Ashland-Greenwood high school. Kyla and Mallory had plans to talk with three classes which encompassed students ranging from freshman to sophomores in high school.
On the trip to Ashland, we discussed the plans for the day, along with new ideas and programs that are being incorporated into the State FFA convention. I was very pleased to be involved in this conversation, and it empowered me to know that all of the agricultural commodities are joining together to protect agriculture as a whole. I say this because I remember Kyla stating that the Soybean Board along with the Corn Board have an active role with helping to create the animal agriculture awareness program along with the agriculture academy being incorporated into the State FFA convention.
The Ag teacher at the Ashland-Greenwood school had made a request for the presentation to be presented in her three classes. To two of the three classes we presented to them about the current issues facing the animal agriculture industry along with specific information about how these misconceptions have arisen. There was an emphasis placed on the definitions of pet and livestock. A pet being an animal that provides companionship, while livestock provide food and products to enhance the lifestyle of humans. With these definitions in place, we then discussed with the classes how there are different needs of caring for the animals that fall under the different categories. After we discussed these definitions, we focused on how most of the United States population is at least three to four generations away from having family ties to a farming operation. With this we then discussed how much of the population thinks of farmers with the image of the famous painting, American Gothic¸ in their minds. With this image, it portrays farmers as grumpy old tired people who do not enjoy their job, while the truth is the exact opposite.
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups apricot preserves
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Place chili powder, garlic powder, sugar, salt and pepper in a jar; shake to blend. Rub spice mixture onto pork tenderloins. Cover tenderloins and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.
Prior to grilling, melt apricot preserves in saucepan over medium heat. Remove pan from the heat and stir in remaining glaze ingredients. Place half of the glaze in a serving bowl and hold for service.
The 2010 Pork Mentoring Class took a tour of the Farmland Foods plant in Crete, Nebraska and I became extremely interested in the inner workings of the hog processing plant. Once the tour was over, I couldn’t wait to work with some of the good folks at Farmland to learn more during one of my professional shadowing experiences!
The first few hours of my shadowing experience were full of paperwork. The Farmland Foods employee that I shadowed showed me the write-ups he did each and every day and explained to me how the numbers were significant. He entered information into his computer about the trucks that came in, the number of hogs, the producers they came from, and how much was paid for each truck. He has two reports to do every day. One was for the information from the day before, and the other was for the information of that day. He also takes the information he received about the hogs that pertained to live weight, processed weight, loin eye area, back fat, and several other numbers and entered the information into a document for him to send off to the people who worked on the daily and weekly hog reports. Just looking at the numbers upon numbers I knew I would have been lost in mere seconds. He informed me that these records were only for hogs that were bought based on processed weight and that he had to go through every day to take out any hogs bought only on off the truck basis.