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Community, generosity central at new Thank a Pig Farmer event

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From left to right, Lori Dykstra, Abby Bischoff, Jeff Griffin, Glenn Muller, Tolcha Mesele, Officer Kyle Johnson, and Adam Krause. Each spoke during the Thank a Pig Farmer event Nov. 2 in Sioux Falls. 

Several organizations came together to honor the work of South Dakota pork producers Nov. 2.

While Pork Month technically ended Oct. 31, South Dakota Pork Producers Council (SDPPC), Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, Stockyards Ag Experience and Smithfield Foods teamed up in Sioux Falls to officially wrap up “Porktober,” with a Thank a Pig Farmer event.

The event highlighted the important role pig farmers and all agricultural producers play in feeding and fueling the communities of South Dakota.

Speakers from each organization commended the hard work South Dakota pig farmers and other production agriculture producers put in day in and day out and recognized South Dakota agriculture’s global impact.

“Everything we do in the United States and even on my small farm is related globally to agriculture,” said Adam Krause, pork producer near Clear Lake, South Dakota and first vice president of SDPPC.

Jeff Griffin, president and CEO of the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce echoed Krause’s statements on the global impacts of area agriculture as well as the local benefits.

Smithfield has been a great supporter of the chamber, he said, and the company gives back to the community. Now with Wholestone Farms wanting to increase pork production here, it’s a great sign, he said.

The event took place less than a week before Sioux Falls voters decide on a ballot question that could put an end to Wholestone’s packing plant and prevent building any other meat packing plants within city limits.

The Thank a Pig Farmer event concluded Wednesday evening at the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds with a pork give away. SDPPC partnered with Smithfield Foods to donate over 4,000 pounds of loins and hams at the event. In addition, Smithfield donated over 1,000 pounds of bacon and ribs to Feeding South Dakota in honor of the day.

Lori Dykstra, CEO of Feeding South Dakota, thanked Smithfield and spoke of the importance agricultural plays in their work of feeding hungry South Dakotans. Dykstra said the organization has seen a 40% increase in their mobile distribution centers year over year due to inflation and supply chain issues. Pork is a source of protein and is often requested in their food boxes.

“Having places like Smithfield and Wholestone is essential to the work we do. We can’t do it without our farmers and producers,” Dykstra said.

Feeding South Dakota wasn’t the only beneficiary of Smithfield’s generosity. The company had originally committed to donating 5,000 pounds, but Tolcha Mesele, senior community development manager for Smithfield Foods, made the announcement that they would be increasing their original commitment by 15,000 pounds, to donate 20,000 pounds of pork to various organizations across South Dakota.

Likewise, SDPPC donated 321 $15 pork coupons to the Sioux Falls Police Department, one for each officer serving the city.

Sioux Falls is a big community and provides a lot of support to SDPCC, the organization’s executive director Glenn Muller said. The pork council teams with the Minnesota and Iowa pork boards, as well as the National Pork Checkoff, to use checkoff funds for the project.

“Part of this program is showing our appreciation to our public servants,” Muller said. 

Melisa Goss, Assistant Editor for the Tri-State Neighbor, is a South Dakota farm girl whose love of travel has allowed her to see ag’s vital impact around the world, from America’s heartland to the rice paddies of Southeast Asia and many places in between. She makes her home in Hartford with her husband, daughter and miniature schnauzer. You can reach her at mgoss@lee.net.

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