If you are a pork producer, you are probably familiar with the We Care Program. But what if you aren’t? Have you ever wondered what those big round “We Care” stickers on the side of pork industry service vehicles and feed trucks mean? We Care is an outreach program developed to improve the image of US pork production by highlighting pork producers and helping them tell their stories. The program was developed in an effort to communicate to the public a better understanding of today’s modern and responsible pork production practices. We Care is just one component of the pork industry commitment to “do the right thing” while producing pork. Other components include the Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Program and Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) Program.
A very important part of the We Care Program is the “Ethical Principles for US Pork Producers”. The following is a list of producer principles to follow, and a short description of them.
Food Safety – Producers will use management practices, manage herd health, and manage technology to produce safe food
Animal well-being – Producers will protect animal well being as they:
· Provide feed, water and an environment that promotes well being
· Provide proper care, handling and transportation for pigs at each stage of life
· Protect pig health and provide appropriate treatment, including veterinary care, when needed
· Use approved practices to euthanize, in a timely manner, those sick or injured pigs that fail to respond to care and treatment
Environment – To safeguard natural resources in all of our practices, producers will:
· Manage manure as a valuable resource and use in a manner that safeguards air and water quality
· Manage air quality from production facilities to minimize the impact on neighbors and the community
· Manage our operations to protect the quality of natural resources
Public Health: To protect public health, producers will:
· Use management practices consistent with producing safe food
· Manage the use of animal health products to protect public health
· Manage manure and air quality to protect public health
Employee Care – To provide a work environment that is safe, we will:
· Provide a work environment that promotes the health and safety of employees
· Educate employees on the ethical principles for U.S. pork producers and prepare them to meet their obligations consistent with them
· Provide a work environment where employees are treated fairly with respect
Communities – Producers will contribute to a better quality of life in their communities and will:
· Recognize that being welcomed and appreciated by the community is a privilege that must be earned and maintained
· Acknowledge that our practices can affect the trust a community has in pork production and our operations
· Operate in a manner that protects the environment and public health
· Play and active role in helping to build a strong community
· Acknowledge community concerns and address them in an honest and sincere manner
It’s important for us as producers and caretakers of swine to participate in the program and follow the above principles, since many Americans today know little about agriculture and how their food is produced. If you are a pork producer and want to actively participate in the program, here’s how: contact the North Carolina Pork Council for We Care promotional material and look for opportunities to share the information in your community and with family, friends and neighbors. They can provide you with the “producer to consumer” talking points to bring up in your conversation, but be sure to tell your story about your farm, employees and animals. There may even be an opportunity to invite a school or church group to your farm and show them how you provide a safe, wholesome pork product.
For more information and guidance on the program and getting involved, contact the NCPC at 919-781-0361 or at www.ncpork.org.
Eileen Coite is the county Extension Director for the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center.