Its still National Pork Month so along with my Pork Month Giveaway, we’ve seen a “Unique Perspective” of the pork industry so now I’d like you to meet Rebecca Bailey. Rebecca is a recent graduate from Oklahoma State University and is now working on a masters in Agricultural Communications. Rebecca has been involved in the pork industry all of her life, from production to working as an intern with the National Pork Board. See what this pork industry has done and means to Rebecca.
As a child, Christmas morning is one of the most anticipated times of the year. You wake up, jump out of bed and excitedly run to the living room to see what Santa left you. In my household, this scene was a little different. Me, along with my mom, dad, sisters and brother would wake up, jump out of bed, change into our work clothes, put on our boots and go out to the barns and feed hogs.
My family runs a 2,200-sow commercial hog operation located in the heart of California. My parents started raising hogs in the ‘70s and have been doing it ever since, changing with the times to ensure continuous improvement of the pork industry. Today, my oldest sister and brother work side-by-side with my parents and employees to raise a safe, wholesome product for consumers to enjoy.
On our farm, an average day starts off with the feeding of the animals. We feed a balanced ration that provides a proper amount of nutrients to ensure the animal’s growth and health. In addition, they are provided constant access to clean, cool water at all times.
Our animals are raised indoors. Pigs are very sensitive to extreme temperatures, so this environment allows us to control temperatures, keeping them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. This environment also allows the animals to remain safe from predators, parasites and decreases the chance of disease.
We work with veterinarians to ensure our herd health by providing individual pig care to each animal and appropriate treatment when needed. All employees are trained in National Pork Board’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) Program. PQA Plus is a program to assist producers in continuous improvement of the pork industry. The program encompasses the safety of U.S. pork products and provides producers with information to measure, track and improve animal wellbeing.
Growing up raising hogs gave me the opportunity to be involved in youth organizations such as 4-H, FFA and that National Junior Swine Association. This involvement, along with working on my family’s farm, gave me a unique set of skills and knowledge I will use the rest of my life. It also led me to Oklahoma State University, where I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in agricultural communications, and has exposed me to various job opportunities.
This past summer I had the unbelievable opportunity of interning for the National Pork Board in Des Moines, Iowa. The National Pork Board oversees the Pork Checkoff. The checkoff program allows 40 cents for every 100 dollars of live pork sold to fund programs involving promotion, consumer information and research within the pork industry.
At the National Pork Board, I was able to gain more knowledge of the pork industry and work with producers across the country. Working with such a passionate group of individuals, reinforced my decision to pursue a career within the pork industry. And, maybe one day, head back to the golden state and assist on the family farm. From experience, there is nothing more rewarding than working side-by-side with family, serving a great industry, and knowing you are feeding the world.
Animals need us to care for them, therefore pork producers work 365 days a year (even on Christmas). Farming is tough work, but someone has to do it. As pork producers, we take pride in what we do. We care for our animals, not just because it is our livelihood, but because it is the right thing to do.
As I look back on Christmas mornings, I remember being envious of the kids who got to wake up and leisurely go and open presents, and wonder why me and my family had to go to work. However, today I reflect on these memories and feel blessed to have had that opportunity, and realize I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I thank God I have the privilege of being part of this amazing industry, which has provided me an understanding and appreciation for the people out there who work hard to provide us with safe and wholesome food. It’s National Pork Month, and I want to thank all those involved in the pork industry for their hard work and dedication to our precious industry.
If you get a chance, please thank Rebecca for sharing her pork industry experience with us. Be sure to give Rebecca a follow on twitter!