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This week I spent two days in Washington D.C. with pork producers from around the country. We had the great opportunity to be updated on issues that are important to pork producers and in turn, had the chance to share that information with my elected officials.
I have been to Washington D.C. before, but I still get a thrill each time I see the Washington Monument. I’ll admit I love history and the fact that I am in a city filled with historical significance is inspiring.
What’s even more impressive is the freedom we have to participate in the democratic process. Our “visits to the hill” allow us to meet with Representatives and Senators and openly talk to them about the issues that are vital to our work as pork producers – as providers of healthy, lean, protein for the world.
Of course while I’m busy making my point, numerous other individuals are making theirs, some in contrast to mine. While we often complain about how slow government works, in reality it’s part of the checks and balances that keeps our country from veering too far in one direction.
Our voice does make a difference; how else will our elected officials know what we need and how their actions affect us?
Steve Meyer, from Paragon Economics made that statement at a pork industry meeting I recently attended. It’s a simple statement, yet very profound. We may call ourselves pork producers, pig farmers, growers, producers or even farm families, but in the end, we have one purpose, to produce food to feed people.
Every day Dale gets up and goes out to the barns to feed and take care of the pigs. There are sows to breed, young pigs that need to be checked and the occasional pig that may need extra care. There is feed to grind and animals to be fed. Some days there are gates to be fixed or other repairs that need to be done. The end goal is to send a pig to market that is healthy, efficient and a good source of lean protein for the consumer.
The pigs we raise could end up as a dry aged pork chop in a white table restaurant. The ham could be part of a school lunch meal, perhaps the best meal that some kid has for that day. Pork ribs could be part of a tailgate party before a big football game. The loin roast could be part of a hot delicious meal on a cold winter night.
The farmers I know are modest, perhaps too modest. They don’t want to call attention to what they do, so unfortunately some people don’t understand what it’s like to raise pigs today. It’s like many other jobs, rewarding, challenging, frustrating and gratifying. But to farmers, it’s more than a job, it’s a livelihood, a passion they have for raising livestock that one day feeds people.
Next time you see a farmer, any type of farmer, tell him or her thanks. They may be surprised, but they’ll appreciate your gratitude.
My 10 year old daughter Beth asked me that question earlier this week. Blue Earth’s Giant Days road races were coming up and she wanted to do the 2 mile run this year instead of the ½ mile kids run. Without hesitating I said yes and then jokingly added, but will you race at a pace that I can keep up with?
What a great thing to have your daughter ask you to run with her. During the week we got out a few times to train. Beth likes to talk when she runs so we have great conversations. Hopefully these small conversations will set the groundwork for her teenage years, when having someone to talk to is vitally important.
Race day ended up being a family affair, as you can tell by the picture. Dale and the boys ran a 10K race. He helped set their pace since neither of them has competitively raced at this long of a distance. Both did well even though Brett struggled a bit with his stomach and Adam got a side cramp.
Beth and I waited around while the guys ran, since our race was later. She commented a few times on how she was nervous, but I told her being nervous was normal and encouraged her to channel her nerves for positive results. The race started out fast. Dale also ran with us and we slowed the pace down a bit. True to form, Beth conversed along the way. It really was a pleasant run. Dale encouraged me to pick up my pace a bit, which I did and those two stayed slightly behind me. With about 30 yards left, who should come up sprinting from behind me but Beth. She ended up crossing the finish line at 18:01, 3 seconds ahead of me.
Doing activities together is an important part of who we are. Fortunately we’re in good health and in good shape that we can run races. But we’re not just running races; we’re using these moments as a chance to teach our kids about themselves and how to react to the various things that happen to them. Running through a side cramp now can teach them how to work through a difficult project in the future.
Beth and I didn’t just run a race today, we shared an experience.