U.S. pork producers have hit a milestone that is connecting them to millions of consumers and building an understanding of their food's origin and of modern agriculture. The National Pork Board's Operation Main Street (OMS) program has presented its 5,000 speech.

The actual 5,000 speech was given by Pat Titus, a pork producer from Arcola, Ill., to the Ambucs Club in Danville, Ill. "This program has allowed me to have a dialogue with consumers who rarely have any contact with agriculture," he says. "It's really up to us to tell our story and connect with consumers so they know we are committed to producing good, safe food, and to caring for our animals and the environment."

NBP’s OMS program is now in its seventh year. Almost 950 volunteer speakers in more than 30 states have been trained to reach out to consumers, youth and opinion leaders such as dietitians. Over the years, more than 150,000 people have heard presentations from OMS volunteer speakers. Add in media coverage of the presentations and the program is estimated to have reached more than 24 million people.

OMS also has developed partnerships with the National FFA Organization and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV). Through the AASV partnership, OMS speakers are helping educate the next generation of animal health professionals by speaking to students across the country. "Veterinarians are a trusted source of information among consumers, but very few veterinary students today have a background in pork production," says Gene Nemechek, a swine veterinarian with Pfizer Animal Health. "I want to show them how today's production practices ensure a safe, healthy food source."

The National Pork Checkoff funds this extensive community outreach program.

"OMS is truly a dynamic community outreach program," said Don Lipton, public relations director of the America Farm Bureau Federation. "I've watched this program grow through the years and applaud the pork industry's commitment to raising awareness about modern agriculture and to growing leaders for the ag industry."

In more recent developments as the program has evolved, OMS speakers have been trained to help with NPB’s social media efforts and to participate in its Adopt-A-Retailer program. Through that program, representatives work with NPB's retail marketing managers and meet with meat directors, managers and supervisors for the nation’s top grocery store chains.

"Without a doubt, OMS speakers have achieved a lot thanks to their hard work, dedication and desire to take on new challenges, address industry issues and make a lasting difference for the pork industry," says Chris Novak, chief executive officer of the National Pork Board. "We've also learned a lot through their efforts and we're proud to be able to share that knowledge to benefit all of modern agriculture."

Source: National Pork Board