"I view my role as an ambassador and an educator for the pork industry," said Steve Weaver, National Pork Board president and OMS participant from Elk Grove, Calif.
OMS involves intensive speaker training and a scheduling program that encourages producers to give presentations at local chambers of commerce and other civic organizations about environmental issues, how the pork industry has changed through the years, new technologies pork producers use, and the many ways pork production impacts local and state economies.
"As pork producers, we need to be willing to represent our industry," said Weaver. "If we don't, we are missing real opportunities to meet the people in our local communities, promote the benefits of our product and tell our side of the story."
Today this four-year-old effort also includes:
• A media outreach program to generate positive pork industry stories in communities where OMS speakers present which has resulted in 1.9 million people reading or listening to the positive message of the pork industry,
• Advanced speaker training to further develop the skills and confidence required of speakers in more challenging situations, and
• Refresher training to help speakers brush up on their skills and learn from other speakers.
"From the feedback we have received from OMS presenters, the Checkoff developed a Neighbor to Neighbor program," said Ernie Barnes, director of industry services for the Pork Checkoff. "The goal of Neighbor to Neighbor is to empower owners, employees and contract growers to answer questions one-on-one at a local level."
Neighbor to Neighbor was launched in 2006 to provide producers with another option to learn how to set the record straight and tell the industry's positive story. The three-hour training covers key topics, including the environment, antibiotics, animal care and well-being, public health and local and state issues. Upon completion of the training producers are able to talk one-one-one with their neighbors regarding pork industry issues. Participations are not asked to give scheduled presentations. Over 25 Neighbor to Neighbor trainings have been completed to-date.
"Consumers want to hear from people with firsthand knowledge," said Weaver. "I would encourage producers to take part in either of these two programs."
For more information on the Operation Main Street program visit http://www.pork.org/Producers/OMS.aspx
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