The National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council and the entire pork industry are working together to build trust and social responsibility through a new program entitled ‘We Care.’ This program will help shape the pork industry for the future.
“What this really boils down to is building trust, and we want to take that trust to producers,“ says R.C. Hunt, a pork producer from Wilson, N.C. and chairman of the 16-member advisory group. The initiative begins with six guiding principles that were drafted by a group of producer leaders and ratified by delegates at Pork Industry Forum last March. In those principles, producers affirm their obligation to:
• Produce safe food
• Safeguard natural resources in all industry practices
• Provide a work environment that is safe
• Contribute to a better quality of life in communities
• Protect and promote animal well-being
• Ensure practices to protect public health
“We hope this will help define who we are and what the industry’s core values are,” says Mike Wegner, vice president of communications for the NPB. “We have to prove this to consumers to earn their trust.” The group has already begun sharing information with several major retailers on the changing marketplace and about issues such as sustainability. The group also will seek opportunities to earn the trust of legislators, regulators and members of the media.
More and more people just don’t understand where food comes from,” says Dallas Hockman, vice president of industry relations for the National Pork Producers Council. “We are spending a lot of time speaking with packers, retailers and others in the industry so they understand what we are doing.”
Hockman explains the industry is moving from a defensive game plan to an offensive game plan. “It’s about being proactive and working together,” he says. "We are ethically grounded, scientifically verified and economically viable - a balance for success.”
The pork industry has numerous programs, including Pork Quality Assurance Plus and the Take Care--Use Antibiotics Responsibly program, to maintain a safe, high-quality supply of pork. The “We Care” effort ties everything together.
“We are viewing this as an umbrella for all programs within the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council,” Hockman says. “These programs are the framework, and provide proof we are doing the right thing.”
The vision is simple. The advisory committee wants the public to view the industry as a self-regulated industry that earns the trust of others. “We really want people to understand that producing food is still a noble cause,” Hockman says.
Brochures highlighting the ethical principles were distributed to producers at World Pork Expo and are available through the National Pork Board and the NPPC. A second brochure addresses how the industry can retain public trust. “We have to challenge producers to get involved with this,” Hockman says. “It’s serious.”
To view the brochure, click here.