May is beef month, but I’m going to add a few pork cuts to my grilling menu this month. I hope that everybody else in America does too. After a trying couple of weeks, America’s pork producers clearly need a break, and a sudden surge in domestic demand would certainly help out.

Raising pork certainly hasn’t been a picnic the past few years. Costs have risen and profits have been hard to find. But hog farmers caught an especially unfair break recently when news of the H1N1 virus began flying around the Internet at warp speed. The virus was misnamed the “swine flu” early on and no matter how much health officials have stressed that the disease should be called by its correct name, the old name stuck. The upshot: U.S. hog prices swooned as countries started to restrict American pork exports even as health officials around the globe assured consumers that pork was safe and the disease is showing up almost exclusively in people. Indeed there’s only one reported case of a pig contracting the disease, a Canadian animal that contracted it from a human. Even the World Health Organization says pork is safe to eat.

So while hog farmers work hard to care for their animals and produce safe and wholesome food, their markets have crumbled. The National Pork Producers Council figures that losses for all hog farmers reached more than $7 million a day between April 24 and May 1, all because of a faulty name. The council has asked the government to pitch in by buying a little extra pork for the emergency food programs.

But what farmers really need is a flood of consumer demand. Cowboy storyteller Trent Loos has launched a “Pork on a Fork” campaign from his home in Nebraska. His plan is to boost pork demand by getting folks to send in photos of themselves and their families enjoying a tasty pork meal. In this age of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, you can just imagine those photos making mouths water for pork.

And it’s not just rural folks jumping on the pork bandwagon. Even a New York Times writer declared it “Support Pork Week.”

Pork chops are as American as baseball, so show your support for farm families and fire up the grill for some succulent Iowa chops, pork roasts or, my personal favorite, baby-back ribs. And if you don’t know what to cook, check out these recipes on the Pork Board website at

Happy eating!

Written by Dirck Steimel
Dirck is the News Services Manager for Iowa Farm Bureau.