Speaking out and up for pork, and its producers
By KRISS NELSON
The We Care initiative, a joint effort of the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council and state organizations representing farmers, was implemented in 2008 to promote responsible practices in all areas of farming and is a commitment to continuously evaluate and improve pork producers’ methods.
Long before the initiative became a standard in the pork industry, Kevin Rasmussen, Iowa Pork Producers Association District 2 director, and his wife, Lisa, were implementing those core values on their own family’s farm.
During the Webster County Pork Producers’ annual meeting and banquet held at Willow Ridge in Fort Dodge Monday night, the Rasmussens shared their story by speaking out and up for pork producers.
The Rasmussens, who live in Humboldt County, own and operate a pork and grain operation.
“Our farming operation is diversified in the fact that we raise corn to feed our pigs,” said Kevin Rasmussen. “We use manure from our pigs to fertilize the land. Our rich Iowa soil raises more corn to feed the pigs, the cycle goes on and on. We call this diversification.”
The Rasmussens created their own code of ethics for their farming operation and many are the similar to the concepts that makes up the We Care philosophy.
A part of the couple’s code of ethics includes, “we will always strive to do the right thing in every situation, to the best of our abilities. If we fail, we will do everything within our power to make amends.”
The Rasmussens said they keep those points in mind when making short- and long-term goals.
“We know that happy and healthy pigs are easier to take care of and they are more profitable,” said Lisa Rasmussen. “Happy and respected employees are more efficient and employee turnover decreases. Positive interaction within our community creates win-win situations. This is how we live our personal We Care philosophy on a daily basis.”
Lisa Rasmussen added that every day, the efforts of hog farmers and all of those associated with pork production on Iowa farms and across America demonstrate care and concern for how pork is produced.
“The We Care initiative is our answer to the way we ethically care for our animals, our employees and the public, while we go about the task of raising pork,” she said
Everyone involved within the pork industry, Kevin Rasmussen said, has this obligation.
“From facility owners like Lisa and I, to animal caretakers, our employees in our barns, to the drivers who transport hogs, everyone has the responsibility to do his or her part to demonstrate a commitment to responsible pork production,” he said.
Speaking up for pork producers
Kevin Rasmussen said speeches such as the one they presented at the Webster County Pork Producers’ annual meetng and banquet are something he and Lisa present at other events.
“This is how Lisa and I speak up and speak out for our industry,” he said. “This is our message that we give and we have great dialogue afterwards.”
“We want you to speak up,” Lisa Rasmussen said. “Because you are us. We’re you. We want you to speak out and for you to speak up because you have an important voice and for our industry to be successful, we all need to be speaking up for what we do.”
According to Lisa Rasmussen, today the average American farmer feeds about 155 people worldwide. In 1960, that number was 25.8.
“We are proud to be pork producers. We have a passion to feed the world. And we hope you will keep eating bacon, producing bacon and keep talking about bacon,” she said.
As president of the Webster County Pork Producers, Gregg Hora introduced the board’s members and offered an overview on the Webster County Pork Producers’ 2018 outreach projects, which included helping the Webster County 4-H with the cost of scanning hogs for carcass contests and paying for the fair swine judge; partnering with Iowa Pork on numerous advertising efforts including billboards; and multiple grilling events including the Farm News Ag Show, American Cancer Society Relay for Life and the Webster County Farm Bureau Sweet Corn Feed.
The Webster County Pork Producers awarded two $400 scholarships to 2019 graduates: Ben Carlson, of Gowrie, and Cassidy Lambert, of Dayton, both Southeast Valley seniors.
Hora also announced the Webster County Pork Producers will be represented by Webster County Pork Queens, twin sisters Chloe and Chyann Hicks, of Gowrie.
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