Continuous improvement isn’t just important on the farm, it’s also important in building consumer trust. Since 2004, the Pork Checkoff’s Operation Main Street (OMS) program has grown and evolved, with OMS speakers now sharing how pigs are raised with more consumers and key influencers.

The latest tweaks to the popular program include two new pilot programs to connect with retailers and other food chain audiences and to reach health care professionals, such as physicians and nurse practitioners.

“We want these groups to understand that pork producers are leading the way when it comes to animal care, food safety and antibiotic stewardship,” said Ernie Barnes, director of producer services for the Pork Checkoff.

The program began with trained speakers primarily addressing community organizations. But it’s expanded over the years to reach dietitians, chefs, culinary students, veterinary medical students and companion animal veterinarians, Barnes said.

OMS speakers such as Bill Luckey, a pork producer from Columbus, Nebraska, have welcomed the new challenges.

“Being able to speak to groups such as dietitians, amplifies the positive message about today’s pig farming,” Luckey said. “These influencers are trusted by consumers, and when we gain their trust, they in turn help carry our messages to consumers.”

OMS speakers have scheduled more than 2,000 presentations to high-level decision makers and thought leaders. In all, OMS speakers have given more than 8,700 presentations in 42 states since 2004. Media coverage of the presentations has reached more than 35 million people, Barnes noted.

“OMS speakers have always been committed to finding new ways to answer consumer questions and build trust in the pork industry,” Barnes said.

Antibiotic Questions

Recently, OMS speakers have fielded more questions from consumers and other audiences about the use of antibiotics in food animals, Barnes said. To help them address these questions, the Pork Checkoff held training sessions on the pork industry’s responsible antibiotic use programs at World Pork Expo in June.

“The training session was very beneficial to me as an OMS speaker,” said Randy Brown, a pork producer from Nevada, Ohio, who has given over 60 OMS speeches. “This training will help me to be even more effective and transparent as we talk about responsible antibiotic use on pig farms.”

For more information on becoming an OMS speaker contact the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-PORK or contact Ernie Barnes at ebarnes@pork.org.

OMS Expands Its Reach to Food Chain, Health Care