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Published February 08, 2012, 07:06 AM

Pork producers hold convention here

Pork producers from across North Dakota were in Jamestown Tuesday to talk shop, meet each other and discuss threats to the industry. Close to 30 producers converged at the 40th annual Pork Convention put on by the North Dakota Pork Council at the Gladstone Inn & Suites.

Pork producers from across North Dakota were in Jamestown Tuesday to talk shop, meet each other and discuss threats to the industry.

Close to 30 producers converged at the 40th annual Pork Convention put on by the North Dakota Pork Council at the Gladstone Inn & Suites.

“The main missions are to promote pork and educate producers,” said Todd Erickson, a pork producer from Larimore, N.D., and president of the North Dakota Pork Council.

There was a mix of education and promotion as producers were able to complete Pork Quality Assurance Plus certification. That teaches producers how to increase the quality of their product as well as animal well-being.

There was also talk about how pork is gaining market share with the popularity of items like pulled pork and bacon, Erickson said, before the trade show opened.

“We think we have a healthy product and an economical product,” said J.R. Gibbens, vice president of the North Dakota Pork Council. “You get a lot of bang for your buck.”

At Tuesday’s one-day convention producers learned about how to increase animal well-being. Some animal rights groups like the Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have concerns with animal welfare and the fair treatment of animals, and want more done on their behalf.

Erickson and Gibbens said this is a major concern for the industry.

“The Humane Society (of the United States) and PETA probably have a place in this society, but their ultimate goal is everybody in this country becomes a vegan,” Gibbens said.

He stressed that the Humane Society of the United States is not the same as area shelters taking in homeless and abused pets, but rather a “multi-million dollar lobbying group in Washington, D.C.”

While groups like PETA and HSUS may have concerns for animals, they may not realize how much of an impact animal agriculture has on rural communities, Gibbens said.

“The (pork) business is a big deal in Cando,” he said. “It’s created 50 direct jobs and another 50 to 75 indirect jobs. We got about 30 kids that wouldn’t be in school if their parents didn’t work in the pork industry.”

Keynote speaker Bruce Vincent said he knows about taking on causes.

As a third-generation logger from Libby, Mont., Vincent was a vocal member of the timber industry and has learned to work with and inform public groups about a variety of public issues.

“It took us a decade to figure out there’s a difference between fighting and leading,” Vincent said.

Now he serves on at least nine organizations that are either advocacy or public policy groups.

Vincent can help the pork industry here with dealing with non-governmental organizations concerned with animal rights.

Leading comes down to listening, analyzing and addressing, Vincent said.

“If we are going to be servants and guardians we have to be certainly talking to them (interest groups) about how we are going to protect their interests,” he said.

Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at brodgers@jamestownsun.com

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