Mclean County Board committee learns about pork production
Members of the McLean County Board’s Land Use and Development Committee learned more about what modern pork production facilities can bring to a county on Thursday.
The National Pork Board has put together a group of speakers as a part of a program called Operation Main Street. The effort is to help city groups, decision makers and county boards get a better glimpse of what modern swine production is all about.
While the speakers often target areas with new construction or production facilities coming into the area, they also look to spread the word in general to a number of audiences, which was the case in McLean County.
The group learned that the pork industry in Illinois will contribute around $2 billion to the rural economy each year.
“About 26 percent of the pork production in the United States is exported,” explained Bill Fisher, retired animal scientist from the University of Illinois. “How does that translate to a McLean County hog farmer? Well, it’s an increased value in the product. So, if we’re moving that product overseas, it puts price value into the product locally. Essentially, those dollars are coming back into the rural community.”
Pork producers also use local corn and soybeans when possible, which adds value to those crops when farmers can deliver them to an end user that is closer in proximity.
Fisher said follow-up surveys after these types of presentations have shown that those listening usually have minimal knowledge about modern pork production at the beginning, but typically those groups feel more educated afterwards and sometimes their opinions are even changed.
He is one of 500 speakers nationwide working to educate the consuming public and help them to make a more informed decision when given the opportunity.
“We’re trying to help people make an educated decision when these things come about. Let’s say, for instance, in many states there have been livestock initiatives on ballots to change the way production is handled,” said Fisher. “We would like for them to be at least informed to make their own decision. We’re not trying to beat people over the head. We just want take some of the more informed decisions rather than emotional decisions.”
While Fisher spent most of his time on economic information, he said it is also important that people understand pork quality, which is mostly in the hands of the consumer. New cooking standards for pork require a lower final temperature than they did before, because farmers are producing a much leaner product.
“Don’t overcook that pork because as I said earlier, it’s leaner and it’s just not as forgiving when we are cooking it as it was 30 years ago,” said Fisher.
If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!