National Pork Board President Tim Bierman has sent a strongly worded letter to the editor of Time magazine for its recent cover story, “America’s Food Crisis and How to Fix It.

For starters, there is no food crisis in America, he says. “Americans have access to abundant, safe and affordable food that is the envy of the rest of the world. It is produced by caring farmers using methods that are supported by science and backed by experience,” Bierman responds.

“Unfortunately for Time’s readers, the food plate of the article’s author, Bryan Walsh, is half empty. He blames modern pork production for much of what he considers to be today’s environmental concerns. He says pigs eat too much corn-based feed, which in turn, relies on too much commercial fertilizer.

“Walsh fails to credit pork production for its contribution to a recyclable and completely organic system that provides animal nutrients for crops. He also fails to mention no-till cropping methods, greenways and the land set aside for erosion control and wildlife areas – all of which occur regularly on America’s farms and go a long way in preventing soil erosion and nutrient runoff,” he continues.

Bierman says if the author had bothered to contact the National Pork Board, “he quickly would have learned how pork producers – through their own programs as well as through governmental regulation – have made environmental stewardship a way of life.”

The magazine author also ignores pork industry programs that help keep pork safe, abundant and nutritious including We Care, Pork Quality Assurance Plus, Transport Quality Assurance and others.

“Instead of talking about any of those positive efforts, Walsh relied on the negative and tired agenda-driven talking points offered by predictable opponents of modern food production,” Bierman points out.

Walsh is also wrong on animal husbandry, using loaded terms such as “prison-like conditions” and inferring that modern livestock production is directly responsible for antibiotic resistance. Pork producers using antibiotics responsibly and together with their herd veterinarians follow time-tested management practices. “The pork industry’s We Care initiative, adopted last year, reiterates what producers have always done by focusing on superior animal care, herd health and technology to produce safe food. This is quantified by the more than 38,000 producers who have already been certified in the PQA Plus program,” Bierman states. View programs at www.pork.org.

Final statements by the author that consumers should eat more fruits and green, less meat, which are better for people and the planet, ignores balance and perhaps uncovers the author’s true agenda: to get Americans to stop eating all meat.

In response, pork producers “must continue to let the public know that we are working hard to produce safe, affordable, high-quality food in the most responsible way possible,” Bierman says.

Meat Institute Urges Action

American Meat Institute (AMI) President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle is urging state agriculture commissioners, secretaries and directors to contact the editors of Time magazine to express their disappointment with last week’s cover story, and to demand a balanced story written by an unbiased reporter.

“I’m sure you will agree this article makes a complete mockery of the modern miracle that happens every day in America’s agricultural sector and completely distorts a range of issues, including large-scale animal operations, food safety, nutritional data, ‘the hidden costs’ of corn, the use of antibiotics in livestock, climate change and the virtues of eating organic,” Boyle wrote in a letter sent Friday to members of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

Boyle also took AMI’s opposition to the Time article to the airwaves in a radio feed on the National Association of Farm Broadcasters radio network, airing on dozens of radio stations across the country.