Transparency – it’s a condition promised by our current President when he was campaigning for the highest office in the land. And yet, by all accounts, his administration has failed miserably in providing this “transparency.”
This week marks a significant milestone for the pork industry as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the World Pork Expo (WPX) in Des Moines, Iowa. I was fortunate to be at the table during some of those early planning meetings that helped shape this “world-class event.” There were differing opinions on how “transparent” this event should be to the public.
While everyone felt strongly the new venture needed to be the very best industry “open-house” that could be held, there was some variation regarding the role of our consumer base at this expo. Some felt strongly that the WPX needed to focus on the promotion of our product, hence the emphasis on the “Big Grill” and musical entertainment stages.
Others felt if we wanted to get the most “bang for our buck”in promoting the nutritious profile of our product, we probably wouldn’t target Des Moines, Iowa, but rather cities like Chicago or San Francisco. Rather, this event should focus on providing the very latest in technological advances, management tools and marketing opportunities.
Another somewhat controversial part of this world-class event was the inclusion of the eight-breed hog shows and sales held in the swine barn each year. The “transparency” of hosting a purebred hog show, and the fear of a TV news camera capturing some footage of a breeder “encouraging” his boar or gilt to move around the barn or show ring caused concern to some.
And to others, the “image” of a hog show wasn’t exactly how they wanted to portray our industry.
It hasn’t always been easy, as disease concerns (FMD) led to the cancellation of the 2001 WPX, and almost resulted in the elimination of the hog shows in 2008 due to the HINI scare.
But once again, industry leaders stepped up and did the right thing. I’ll never forget the conclusion NPB past-president Everett Forkner drew after a rather “heated” meeting in 2008. He simply stated,"I think we just proved that common sense and good judgment can still prevail over panic and fear."
Today, you will find “standing room only” crowds jammed into the swine barn as the record-setting WPX Junior National show involves young industry leaders from 30 states. They are the future of our industry, and it is so vital we include them in this world-class event.
My congratulations to those industry leaders and staff from both the NPPC and NPB that have paved the way for the greatest pork-specific event in the world. I hope we continue to provide this type of “transparency” for many years to come. The light is shining brightly on our industry in Des Moines this week.