The National Pork Board in 2005 will be training more than 200 producers to help them communicate with their neighbors and their communities about pork production in the 21st century.

"One of the best ways to tell the industry's story is from a producer armed with the real facts," said Danita Rodibaugh, a producer from Resnsselaer, Ind., and Vice President of the National Pork Board.

The program, Operation Main Street, began in September 2004 as an idea to upgrade the industry's image on a neighbor-to-neighbor basis. A pilot program involving 14 states and more than 20 pork producers was initiated in December 2004 to begin training producers to make speeches before local audiences of civic clubs and similar organizations.

A number of non-farmers who completed surveys after hearing early presentations said the information changed their views of the pork industry.

"I came from the old way of farming and thought confined raising of animals was cruel," said one civic member on a survey form. "But I now understand the economics of it."

In addition to Operation Main Street, producers are being armed with new tools at state and local trade shows to take back to their communities. A new tool kit includes business cards that producers can give to local restaurants to thank them and encourage the use of pork in menus. The cards also provide ideas for producers to encourage their own local involvement.

"Both Operation Main Street and the tool kit say to producers 'this is your operation, your industry. No one can help to better promote pork than you'," Rodibaugh said.

Source: Association Release