Perry Aasness, vice president of industry relations for the Pork Checkoff, believes that industry volunteers have been responsible for a surge in public relations during a time when the voices of advocacy groups are growing. He credits Operation Main Street speakers who are now showing key decision-makers and influencers such as county commissioners, dietitians and small animal veterinarians, how pork producers are working hard every day to do the right thing.
Since its beginning in 2004, Operation Main Street pork producers have made more than 4-thousand speeches. All told almost 116-thousand consumers and opinion leaders have heard firsthand about the innovation, stewardship and economic impact associated with the pork industry. As an example, Mike Wehler of Upland Prairie Farms in Plain, Wisconsin, shared his direct experiences to the Madison Area Rotary Club.
Wehler says consumer-to-producer relationships are vital to the future of the pork industry. He says – the biggest issue that we've seen relates to odor. Farmers spread manure from time to time and there are some odor issues that have led to other questions in terms of waste water and manure runoff. To prevent runoff, Wehler said that larger, more modern units are trapping in the nutrients so they are not as exposed to erosion and leeching as they were in the past. Modernization has also helped to control odor through automated fans, biofilters and methane digesters.