Illinois Pork Producers Association busy during October Pork Month
October is National Pork Month, and Illinois pork producers have a number of reasons to celebrate.
Over the past four years, the Illinois Pork Producers Association has been working with the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board and Illinois Association of Meat Processors on the Pork Power program.
According to Tim Maiers, director of public relations for IPPA, pork producers donate pigs to the processors and the groups involved help to pay for the processing. They then donate the ground pork to food banks. Recently the groups donated 34,000 pounds of ground pork to Feeding Illinois, which includes eight regional food banks.
“In the four years that we’ve had the program going on, we’ve had over 242,000 pounds of ground pork that we’ve donated to food banks in Illinois and that’s amounted to close to 970,000 meals for families in need,” said Maiers.
The Pork Power program also works with the Midwest Food Bank in Bloomington, and with the help of Gridley Meats, the groups plan to make another donation there in November.
The Illinois Pork Producers Association also has some promotions going on as a part of October Pork Month, including a partnership with Culver’s Restaurants, which includes both Bloomington locations.
“Culver’s does a great job of featuring pork products on their menu. They’ve got a lot of great pork sandwiches and we greatly appreciate that,” said Maiers.
For a long time, pork checkoff funds have gone towards increasing pork on restaurant menus and in places like Soldier Field, which is featuring pork sandwiches at Chicago Bears games this season.
Maiers said pork producers are cautiously optimistic about the future of the industry as demand has been good, exports have been positive, and prices have held steady even as feed costs have been challenging recently. Grain markets have relaxed some over the past few weeks, which will help producers with those feed costs. Producers have not expanded this year, but Maiers sees good things ahead for pork producers.
“Pork is the most widely consumed meat in the world and I think we’re postioned very well here in Illinois and in the U.S. to reach some of those markets that we can to share pork with others around the world,” Maiers said.
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