Pork Cares provides 10,000 pounds of pork to those in need


By Chad Smith, Midwest Messenger

via Lincoln Journal Star (NE) - Sep 15, 2020


In life, we’re often told to take the “lemons” that life gives us and “make lemonade.” COVID-19 has given agriculture one big lemon to deal with.


Slowdowns and shutdowns at pork processing plants across Nebraska and around the nation mean pig farmers have a serious backup of hogs on their operations, and the question is what to do with them. Well, Nebraska’s pork producers are “making lemonade,” roughly 10,000 pounds of it.


The Nebraska Pork Cares campaign was birthed in the mind of Columbus pork producer Bill Luckey. The processing shortage forced many producers to euthanize their animals because there was no more space on their farms. However, Luckey wanted to find other options.


“I had pigs that I couldn’t get into a packing plant, so I put on Facebook that I had some pigs for sale,” Luckey said. “Several friends and family members said they were either too far away to buy a pig from me or didn’t need meat right now. However, many of them said they’d like to pay for one and donate it to a family in need.”


Unfortunately, no small butcher shops in his area had an opening to process hogs, while the larger processing plants were closed due to COVID-19. Plus, pigs processed for food have to be inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That got the Columbus-area farmer thinking about the Loeffel Meat Laboratory at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


“Fortunately, those same discussions were also taking place at the University of Nebraska within the animal science department and the Loeffel Meat Lab,” said Jane Stone, director of domestic marketing with the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.


Luckey worked at the meat laboratory while he was in college. He made calls to officials on campus, including the chancellor and vice-chancellor, asking if the lab could open to help process some animals and donate the meat to food banks. Campus officials signed off and the project began.


“The amazing thing was it only took 10 days between forming the idea and having pigs in the lab for processing,” Luckey said...