Very little is more disheartening to an person dedicated to animals than a mistreated or abandoned animal. Seeing a kitten on the side of the road or a horse without enough to eat can send one into a telephoning frenzy looking for someone — who knows someone — to help.

Our colleagues and friends in the pork world feel the same way. Want proof? Be confident in this belief because okPORK joined hands with a group of like-minded organizations to support the Oklahoma Livestock Relief Coalition.

The responsibility to seize abused and neglected large animals and assure the humane care of the animals falls upon local law enforcement agencies. The mission of the OLRC is to provide a simple way to channel emergency financial support from private individuals and organizations to those local law enforcement agencies.

“I think that by coming together as a group we bring more attention to it,” said Carey Floyd, the OLRC spokesperson. “We make the public aware and we have provided a way for Oklahomans to give help right here.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin provided her stamp of approval to OLRC at a morning news conference on Monday, January 23. In addition to the governor, the Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture, Jim Reese, members of the partner organizations and the media gathered in the Blue Room at the Oklahoma State Capital.

“We’ve had a tough summer,” Fallin said. “And it’s been hard on our farmers and ranchers. It’s a great example of the private sector coming together with law enforcement agencies to properly take care of animals.”

The OLRC agrees about the tough summer and drought, so much so they made it part of their mission statement when forming the coalition.

How much do you love animals?

The Oklahoma Livestock Relief Coalition is accepting monetary donations only.  Donations may be made through the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Foundation, a 501(c)(3) at  or send to OVMF, PO Box 14521, Oklahoma City, OK 73113.  Checks can be made payable to OLRC or OVMF.  For more information, please call (405)478–1002.


I blame my wife for my fascination with Mike Holmes and his TV shows Holmes Inspection and Holmes on Homes. I had never watched HGTV, but my wife is obsessed with it and she drug me into it.

Mike Holmes

I’m a technology addict. I love my iPhone and iPad. I believe they are history altering devices. That’s a big statement and it leads one to believe Steve Jobs must have been one of the most influential people of my lifetime.


I’m sure you’re asking what Mike Holmes and Steve Jobs have in common and why I’m writing about them in Sounds from the Sty. Here’s the simple answer – Steve Jobs believed and Mike Holmes believes that what you can’t see is every bit as important as what you can see.

In the book Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, Jobs relates a story and a work ethic his father instilled in him at a young age. Jobs took Isaacson to his childhood home in Mountain View, CA. Jobs said he had worked with his father to build a new fence at the home. Isaacson wrote Fifty years later the fence still surrounds the back and side yards of the house… As Jobs showed it off to me, he caressed the stockade panels and recalled a lesson that his father implanted deeply in him. It was important, his father said, to craft the backs of cabinets and fences properly, even though they were hidden. “He loved doing things right. He even cared about the look of the parts you couldn’t see.”

In his TV shows, Holmes visits families whose homes are falling apart – usually due to a contractor or renovator that chose to cut corners or not build the home to current building codes. Problems are always found hidden in the floors, ceilings, and walls of these homes. It is clear the work was “hidden” because no one would ever see it.

Holmes has a simple motto – “Do It Right.” Even if the homeowner will never see the work he does, it is important to Holmes to make sure everything is done right.

Today’s pork producers raise our hogs indoors – hidden from the public’s view. We know this is to provide better care for our animals, protect them from the elements and predators. However, the general public doesn’t know that and they don’t appear to be willing to just accept our word that we are doing it right.

It is time for all of us in the pork industry to learn from Steve Jobs and Mike Holmes to always Do It Right and make sure the animal care we provide in our barns is the same care we’d give if everyone could see in our barns. The public expects us to care about the things they can’t see.

Consider it a lesson from Mike Holmes and Steve Jobs.

Yep, that’s right I’m writing about killer whales in in Sounds from the Sty. Give me a sec – you’ll see the point.

The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals has filed suit against SeaWorld on behalf of five Orcas. They are claiming that the Orcas are enslaved and it is a violation of their Thirteenth Amendment rights. In 1865, the amendment was a monumental move for human rights – outlawing slavery and indentured servitude. Now PETA is going to use the court system to say the same right should be applied to non-humans.

Last week I happened to catch a radio discussion between Laura Ingraham and the Jeffery Kerr, general counsel for PETA, on this very issue. Ingraham tried diligently to press him to admit that they would continue up the ladder and seek to “abolish slavery” of all zoo animals. Of course, Kerr denied it working very hard to say that “this is just about the Orcas.”  No one wants to hear that PETA may deny you of your right to take your child to the zoo. They are just not going to admit that.

Ingraham did not press Kerr on if the ruling could have implications for farm animals – I wish she would have. But, James McWilliams addresses the issue in his article How PETA’s Lawsuit Against Sea World Could End Factory Farming published in The Atlantic. McWilliams certainly had nothing nice to say about “industrial ag” or “factory farming” but he gives a pretty good synopsis of what is happening with the suit and what it could mean. I hope you will look at his article.

It will be interesting to see the court’s decision on this case. I have not seen anyone make predictions yet. But, if you have young children, you might schedule your trip to see Shamu soon and pay attention to the Orcas. What happens to them might someday affect your ability to raise pigs.

Lela Davis takes 1st Place at the Pork Recipe Contest

We are all busy these days and cooking a meal for family and friends seems to not be the priority it was a few years ago. I had the opportunity to attend the Tulsa State Fair Pork Recipe contest last week. It was amazing to see the scrumptious creations the entrants had created. The dishes tasted so yummy. It was fun to see the look of anticipation on the ladies faces as the judges tasted each dish and examined the presentation. The winners were so elated when their name was called and I was inspired by their eagerness to share their dishes with everyone there.

I’m sharing the winning recipe below.

First because it was SOOO good.

Second, to inspire you to get in the kitchen. Even if you don’t have lots of time, you can find easy recipes. In fact there’s’ hundreds on
Third to encourage you to incorporate pork into your meal plans. Not just because I work here at OPC, but from my personal experience of feeding my family. Pork is a versatile, healthy option that fits the needs of this busy working Mom with a husband and two boys. I know it will meet your needs too.
Pork Chop Tomato Pie
Created by Lela Davis of Owasso, Okla
1 c. onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp. shortening
4 pork chops, finely chopped2 tbsp. flour
2 small tomatoes, diced
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
4 slices bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
1 cup mozzarella cheese1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 ready- made pie crust

Pork Chop Tomato Pie - YUM!

In a large skillet, sauté onions and pork chops in shortening and 2 tbsp. flour. Cook until tender then simmer until thick. Cook pie crust until ½ done. In medium bowl, stir mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, pepper, cheese and cooked bacon. Add onions, pork chops, and tomatoes and mix well. Put mixture in pie crusts. Cook at 325 for 10-15 minutes, until light golden brown. Makes 2 pies.

In one week we’ve gone from 100+ degree weather to what I like to refer to as “hoodie” weather. Read as: sweatshirts with hoods.

And, with hoodie weather comes football, and with football we get tailgating food!

Here is a recipe we used during the Backyard Barbecue with Tulsa’s News on 6 – and I’m quite certain you’ll enjoy it!

Grilled Bratwurst with Onions Braised in Beer and Mustard
Recipe from

Prep Time: 20 minutes prep, Cook Time: 20 minutes cook

4 4-oz fresh bratwurst (or cooked or smoked varieties)
2 tablespoons bacon fat, lard or olive oil
3 cups onion, thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon sugar
12 ounces dark or amber beer
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons coarse-ground country-style mustard
4 crusty hoagie or Italian rolls, split

Cooking Directions:

Heat fat in 12-inch, deep skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sugar, stir well to coat with fat. Sauté onions, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until starting to turn golden brown. Add beer, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Add bay leaves, lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir mustard into onions, remove from heat and set aside, discarding bay leaves.

Grill bratwurst over medium-hot fire, turning to brown evenly, until nicely browned and internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. on an instant-read meat thermometer. Remove from grill and add to skillet with onions. Over medium heat, cook and stir until sauce becomes syrupy. Serve bratwurst in rolls, generously smothered with mustardy onions.

Serves 4.

Serving Suggestions:
Adapted from Bruce Aidells’ Complete Sausage Book by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly, Ten Speed Press, 2000. Brats and beer are a great combination. Serve with German Potato Salad and in seasoned fruit for your next get together.

Calories: 620 calories
Protein: 22 grams
Fat: 40 grams
Sodium: 1023 milligrams
Cholesterol: 75 milligrams
Saturated Fat: 15 grams
Carbohydrates: 36 grams
Fiber: 3 grams

Random Tip:
Remember! A little pink is ok.

Printer Friendly Version

What is the best invention of all time? Is it your smart phone? The automobile? The computer? Some advancement in medicine? Ask this question and you’ll likely get a different answer from everyone you ask.

Agriculture – that’s the answer Dr. Jonathon Foley, the director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, provided at a recent pork industry conference.

Setting the stage

During the presentation, Foley explained how the food system serves the world population and how it impacts the environment.

  • Today’s food system is failing 2 of 7 people on the planet because:
    • 1 billion people are hungry, and
    • 1 billion people are overweight.
  • To feed the world in 2050 we will need to produce twice as much food as we do today. By 2070 we’ll need three times the food we produce today.
  • 40 percent of the all land on earth is devoted to food production.
  • Agriculture is the largest source of water pollution on the planet.
  • 30-35 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions are from agriculture – for comparison, electric generation is 15 percent and manufacturing is 20 percent.
  • 1 percent of all global energy is used to move food.
  • In just the last 20 years:
    • 28 percent more crop production on 2-3 percent more farmland.
    • 7 percent more harvested land with 19 percent higher yields per acre.

While these are significant improvements, they aren’t enough to keep pace with demand while lowering the environmental cost of food production.

The road map

Foley offered four steps to address the need for food and to protect the environment at the same time.

Slow the expansion of agriculture – any expansion of existing production areas (i.e. land use) will come at a huge environmental cost. Foley estimates halting expansion of agriculture lands would decrease greenhouse gas emissions at 12-15 percent.

Close yield gaps – Raise all yields, but especially those that are lowest. There is always an opportunity to increase yields in Iowa, but the real gains can be made by increasing yields in other parts of the world – eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union bloc countries have huge opportunities to increase yields. These opportunities exist in many parts of the world. Closing yield gaps could add 55-60 percent to food production.

Improve efficiency in resource use – Today there are huge variations in the amount of crop produced per drop of water used. Narrowing these variations could greatly increase food production.

Close diet gaps – How much of our crop production goes to human consumption? About 60 percent. Another 35 percent goes to livestock production and 5 percent goes into fuel production. Changes to crop usage could increase food calorie production by 50 percent. Reducing food waste would increase availability by 30 percent. Consider this – feeding grain to hogs is a far more efficient converter of crops to food than feeding it to cattle.

How I see it

So, why have I spent a page sharing this information? I feel strongly that this is something we need to think about. Historically, we’ve thought of people who are concerned about how we care for the environment as the bad guys. It should be clear to all of us now that every decision we make ultimately has an impact on the environment and our consumers are placing more emphasis on minimizing that impact. Simply, saying “we need to feed the world, leave us alone and let us do it,” is not sufficient.

Foley concludes that none of these options would work alone, but when you take the benefits of all four steps together, we could double food production and cut environmental damage in half. There is little margin for error, but agriculture has been the greatest invention in the history of man and continuing that kind of innovation will allow us to feed an ever-growing world and protect our environment.

Anyone who has traveled through downtown Oklahoma City lately knows that virtually all of downtown is undergoing some kind of road construction. Looking out my windows, the street to the east of us has lanes closed. Streets to the South – closed to through traffic. To the west – lanes closed. And those on the north? You guessed it, lanes closed.

Last week the City of Oklahoma City had a meeting to update businesses in our block on what the next phase of construction would hold for us. Needless to say, the reception the city officials got from the local businesses was not very friendly. And what’s the source of the aggravation? A complete lack of information about what’s going on.

I know that sounds ridiculous – an information meeting that doesn’t give out any information, but that’s what we had. When we see someone from City Hall on TV or in the paper, their quote is the same “We Have A Plan” every time. But if you ask about the plan, you just get told to trust them because they have a plan.

As I was walking to the office today, it dawned on me that today’s agriculture producers are in the same boat with the same message as the folks at City Hall.

When consumers ask us about what’s happening on our farms, we tell them we have a plan, science supports what we are doing, and they should just trust us. And then we are incredulous when consumers react just like we do when faced with City Hall. 

Consumers have asked us about what goes on in our barns and we respond with everything is OK. Trust us. Look at the science. What we haven’t done to date is to demonstrate we are listening to the consumer. I’m not saying we need to turn our agricultural practices on their ear, but we do at least need to acknowledge the questions and concerns our customers and consumers have.

Consumers want to know that we share their values. Once they know we have common values, then they are far more likely to just trust us. This means we need to have an honest dialogue with the people who buy our products about what they want from us. What do they need to know.

One thing is very clear to me. “We have a plan” and “trust us” simply won’t address the consumers’ questions and concerns anymore than it does when City Hall tells me the same thing about our road construction woes.

Each summer during the Oklahoma State University Big 3 judging contest OPC hosts the Youth 4 Pork Speech Contest. The rules are pretty simple: give a speech about something pertaining the pork industry.

Participants are divided into 4 categories: Junior FFA, Junior 4-H, Senior FFA, and Senior 4-H. Winners of each category are then asked to give their speech again before an overall winner is selected.


I realize I’m partial to Oklahoma’s youth, but – wow. These 4-H and FFA members are outstanding!

Spiro FFA Member, Desiree Masterson, took top honors with her speech regarding the new national tagline: Be Inspired.

Congratulations to our great group of speakers in the Youth for Pork Speech Contest. Below are the results. Everyone did a wonderful job and our judges commented on the great quality of this year’s speakers.

Junior 4-H
1st Elizabeth Perdue – Kingfisher
2nd Brandon Cecil – Henryetta
3rd Molly Blaser – Lamont
4th (tie) Seth Jackson – Tecumseh
4th (tie) Rhett Taylor – Okemah

Junior FFA

1st Sara Lawson – Canadian
2nd Brooks McKinney – Spiro
3rd Cheredan Vap – Byron
4th Logan Cox – Spiro
5th Talyor Carey – Webbers Falls
6th Ross Taylor – Okemah
Senior FFA
1st Desiree Masterson – Spiro
2nd Dyson Runyan – Madill

Overall winner
Desiree Masterson – Spiro

Saturday was hot.

And, not just because the temperature read 105 degrees (although, I’d say it was atleast 110)

There’s only one logical place you can find okPORK staff, Oklahoma pork producers and volunteers when the temperatures keep rising – grilling. Saturday marked the MidWest City stop of the Inauguarl Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour.

What were we grilling?
We purchased whole pork loin (that morning in the Sam’s store) and asked the butcher to cut the loin into 3/4 inch chops. Click here for a tutorial on Whole Pork Loin.

Tina Falcon, pork producer from Tecumseh, Okla., and her two oldest daughters Fayth and Alyson, were on-hand to help answer questions.

Here are a few questions I overheard on Saturday (paraphrased, of course.):

How many pig are on your farm?
We have two farms with 1,200 pigs.

Do you eat a lot of pork?
Yes, with five children – seven mouths to feed – we eat a lot of pork and shop at Sam’s, too.

I’ve heard a lot about pollution?
The Oklahoma pork industry is highly regulated and we actually use the “waste” from our pigs to fertilize our pature where we graze our cattle. Most Oklahoma pork producers pride themselves in caring for their land. I mean, my five children play on the farm, too.

Alyson made quite the hand on Saturday!

Perkins-Tryon FFA send us the A-team when it comes to volunteers! They were on-hand distributing samples, recipes and coupons.

When the temperatures are as high as they have been in Oklahoma – it’s important for pork producers to be close to their farms to care for their animals.

This is why we’re so thankful for the help from Perkins-Tryon FFA Volunteers.

You can keep up with okPORK on twitter, Facebook and our website.

Just over a year ago I sat in a meeting room at the Iowa State Fairgrounds and listened to a representative of the South Korean government tell pork producers attending the 2010 World Pork Expo how important the free trade agreement between South Korea and the United States (KORUS FTA) was to both countries.

Fast forward 52 weeks and you have the South Korean Ambassador to the United States standing in the same room, giving a very similar speech to virtually the same audience.

Ambassador Han Duk-soo praised US pork producers and the National Pork Producers Council for efforts to pass the KORUS FTA. The ambassador even credited our industry with being willing to “take one for the team” and accept a two-year delay in implementation of the treaty provisions related to tariffs on pork going into South Korea.

After years of delay, it appeared the KORUS FTA might finally be headed to Congress for final approval. A look back at the archives of this blog will give you some of the history of KORUS FTA so I won’t go into all of it here. The last major development in KORUS FTA was a renegotiation of the agreement to address auto import/export issues. On December 3, 2010, the Obama administration announced the auto issues had been resolved and the agreement was finally ready for congressional approval. During his State of Union address, President Obama told the country the KORUS FTA (and the FTAs with Panama and Columbia) were important to the economic growth of the country and that they would be sent to Congress soon for approval. In April, during the NPPC legislative seminar, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk told pork producers all the trade agreements were being prepared for presentation to Congress.

Despite support in both the House and Senate for the KORUS FTA, despite presidential and administration assurances the FTA would be presented to Congress soon, it is now June 10, and there is still no movement on any of the pending FTAs. The administration is now insisting on additional funding for job retraining before it will send the FTAs to Congress.

Ambassador Han was very clear in his comments to producers on Thursday that time is running out on the KORUS agreement. South Korea is negotiating trade deals with many of our global competitors and some have already completed and implemented trade deals that will give them a decided advantage over US pork and the tariffs we pay to ship product into South Korea.

But perhaps the most important comment from the ambassador was a question. If the US is unable to ratify and implement a free trade agreement originally negotiated during the George W. Bush administration and renegotiated and agreed to during the Obama administration, will other countries soon decide that it is no longer worth the time and effort to negotiate trade agreements with the United States?

No one wants to invest significant amounts of time and money into the negotiation of any type of agreement without some assurances the agreement will eventually be implemented. The KORUS FTA – as well as the Panama and Columbia FTAs – took an incredible amount of time and effort on the part of both governments. Are we telling other countries around the world we are willing to talk about trade but not really willing to actually do anything about it?

In other words, was it all just a waste of time?


Staff ::

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 12 other followers