By Zachary Lubeck
The participants in the Pork Leadership Program braved the cold Nebraska January weather for their sixth and final session of the 2019-2020 program. This session covered a variety of topics in the pork world from feed programs, to finding value in lightweight animals, to further processing and preparing pork products for final consumption by domestic and global consumers. The opening conversations were held in West Point on January xx at Quality Pork International’s “further processing” location and included NPPA board members, Nebraska Department of Agriculture representatives, and the Pork Leadership Program participants. Many members of the group had little experience in the further processing and cooking world and were able to spend time walking through the plant and seeing the industrial ovens, slicers, dicers, injectors, and packaging equipment that are required to prepare ready –to-eat products. Paul Nielsen, the plant manager at West Point, then ran through a small presentation that explained the steps used to prevent food-borne illness and to ensure food safety for ready to-eat products.
The next day, January xx, we made our way to the Wiechman Pig Company in Fremont to hear a presentation from Mark Wright. Mark has a very intimate knowledge of the operations at Wiechman because he started his career with them working part-time while he was in college. He explained that he expected his career to take him into the education field, but he found that he really enjoyed working in agriculture and with the team at Wiechman. The company specializes in marketing animals that are not ideal for the majority of commodity operations and tends to focus their buying stations near slaughter facilities to easily access animals that are deemed too small or not ideal for a variety of reasons.
The final stop of the seminar was at Quality Pork International’s Omaha facility. The group was able to tour the facility to see how the company has geared itself for export in their accelerated freezing and streamlined transportation to the West Coast. It is no secret that the growth in the pork industry will have to utilize overseas markets. Quality Pork feels that the company has positioned itself to help serve these markets by the attention to detail and focus on integrating freezing and transportation into their main operations.