Minnesota Pork Producers Struggle to Pass Their Sustainability Efforts to Consumers – InForum

MANKATO — As consumers grow more curious about where their food comes from but also further away from animal production than ever, pig farmers are scrambling to get the word out about their sustainability efforts and treatment of animals.

“A lot of us have done a lot of things well over the years, but we’ve done a good job of keeping it a secret,” said Don Buhl, a Tyler hog farmer who attended the Minnesota Pork Congress and Show. professional last week in Mankato.

“I think it makes sense for people to care about where their food comes from,” Buhl said. “Our challenge is to connect with them and tell them what we’re doing. We’re not doing a good job of that.”

Sara Crawford, vice president of sustainability for the National Pork Board, and Lauren Servick, director of marketing and public policy engagement at Mankato-based Minnesota Pork, gave a seminar on a new sustainability effort.

Called WeCare, the national group has worked with producers across the country over the past two years to create a data-driven model to measure a variety of efforts that producers can aim for and allow producers to measure their work by compared to what other farmers in the state and the nation are doing.

“We know consumers are further away from where their pork is produced, but they’re more interested in where it comes from,” Crawford said. She said growers use a variety of sustainable practices, but often don’t even realize it and don’t often tell consumers about it.

Servick said sustainable practices are also best for a grower’s business. “Sustainability makes you money, saves you money and saves you time.”

The National Pork Group developed a framework of ethical production guidelines 20 years ago, but in the past two years it has created a model with specific goals and measures. The program focuses on the environment, food safety, animal welfare, employee welfare, community and safeguarding public health.

Farmers can now use an online tool to calculate and enter things like their farm’s carbon footprint, animal health details, crop information, employee training, food protection efforts , etc The information is entered by a third-party partner and the results do not include anything that identifies individual farmers to protect their privacy. The information is then combined with information from other producers to create a nationwide, national database of what farmers are doing and how well they are achieving their goals.

Crawford said the producer owns his information and can only share individual results with those he chooses. She said the combined data will be useful for pig associations to present to large buyers, such as Walmart or McDonalds, who want to show customers they are taking steps to be more environmentally friendly and protect welfare. animals.

(c)2022 The Free Press (Mankato, Minnesota). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Maria D. Ervin