JoAnn Alumbaugh
JoAnn Alumbaugh

Rob Brenneman wouldn’t consider himself a film star, but when representatives from Elanco came to his Washington, Iowa pork operation to film a video, he welcomed the opportunity to explain how he’s grown the family operation and to share his thoughts about the future of pork production.

Brenneman Pork produces about 500,000 pigs per year and farms about 3,200 acres. But mind you, this is a family operation. All the children are involved in the operation in some way, and the emphasis is on continual improvement. “Every day I get up and think about what can I do better today,” says Rob in the video. “I do what I do because I love it.”

Direct Link to Consumers
Rob feels a responsibility to feed the world, because, as he says, “A lot of people go to bed hungry every night. We’re very privileged to have an abundance of food in this country but if we take technology away, and we don’t do our best every day, we’re actually taking food away from somebody who would be able to utilize it.”

I interviewed Rob and Char a long time ago when they had a much smaller operation. But even then, I could sense the commitment they had to using cutting edge technology to expand their operation and improve their pork production practices.

A year ago, the Brennemans opened a restaurant in Iowa City, Iowa, called the Iron Hawk. They serve pork products from their farm in the restaurant and appreciate the opportunity to tell customers how it’s raised. “We tell our story, and people like to hear about it,” he says.

“We want consumers to know that we are the first ones to eat this product,” he points out. “Our grandchildren, our children and our neighbors consume our product, and so do the people who work for us. We’re going to provide the most wholesome, healthiest product we can to these people, and we believe that we do.”

More is Needed
“We are at a point in time when just doing the right thing isn’t good enough anymore,” says Michael Doran, swine marketing associate for Elanco and coordinator for the photo shoot at the Brenneman’s farm.

“In 2014, Elanco is leading with the “why”…why we do what we do,” he explains. “The Brennemans are driven by their personal “why” and aren’t afraid to share it with anyone. It is a true pleasure to work with people like Rob who are proud of what they do every day.”

Elanco plans on more collaborative efforts with customers as the year unfolds, because these are the kinds of stories the company wants to help share. Mike says, “Elanco plans to promote the video through its social media channels. We think when people see and hear pork producers describe what they do and why they do it, the whole industry benefits.”

I couldn’t agree more. Wouldn’t it be great if every pork producer did something similar to this? Think about how it would “humanize” the industry. Think about how it would help eliminate the derogatory terms activists love to use, solely to solicit a negative reaction from consumers to further their cause against animal agriculture. I can’t think of a better, more proactive approach.

In addition to the Elanco video, another video was produced on the Brennemans’ farm that explains more about the practices employed on the farm. You will be able to read about this video (and watch it) in Erin Brenneman’s blog in the near future, so be looking for it.

Tell us what you’re doing on your farm to promote the pork industry, and please know that your efforts are appreciated.