The National Pork Board will be training more than 200 producers in 2005 to communicate with neighbors and 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,” states Danita Rodibaugh, Rensselaer, IN, pork producer and vice president of the National Pork Board.

Pork checkoff funds were used to create a new program to get producers involved in their own communities and a tool kit to help producers tell the story of pork production.

The program, Operation Main Street, began last fall as a way to upgrade the industry’s image on a neighbor-to-neighbor basis. A pilot project was conducted in December 2004 involving 14 states and more than 20 producers who were trained to give speeches before local audiences of civic and community groups.

Producer Julie Becker of Fairmont, MN, has given the program some early success. The New Ulm Journal featured her talk to 20 New Ulm, MN Chamber of Commerce members in a recent article.

The new tool kits given to trainees includes business cards producers can give to local restaurants to thank them and encourage the use of pork in menus. The cards also offer ideas for producers to become involved locally.

Producers attend a two-and-a-half-day training session to learn how to communicate and get updates on current issues. Training sessions are being offered monthly across the country.

If interested, contact your state pork producer group or Mary Wonders (515/223-3535, mary.wonders@porkboard.org) or Nicole Boettger (515/223-2612, nicole.boettger@porkboard.org).