January and February are often focused on planning and preparation for the year ahead. Not only do we start working on annual Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner, which will be held in September, but it’s also time for the Niman Ranch hog farmer regional meetings. Our local Niman Ranch Field Agents organize regional get-togethers at the start of the year because it’s usually a slower time of the year for us-well, less field work anyway!
The meetings are a time for learning and also a chance to connect with one another. Farmers are served lunch featuring our own Niman Ranch Pork- from the animals we raised- while brushing up on a few things and exchanging helpful hints.
This year we heard from our veterinarian Dr. Kurt Van Holzen about the importance of vaccinations in keeping the herd healthy. He also talked about holistic measures like adding vinegar to watering tanks and oregano as a feed additive, these things help to boost their immune system and increase overall blood circulation.
Our meeting in Latimer, Iowa, also featured Niman Ranch sales director Russ Smoke, who came all the way from Florida to cook up a selection of Niman Ranch sausages for the farmers to try and provide insight about his dealings with our customers and how he works with chefs, retailers and consumers. He told us about a recent event called the Cayman Cookout in Cayman Islands, and how Chef Tyson Grant whipped up some dynamite creations using our products that wowed those in attendance. It was a fascinating talk, because so many times a farmer’s relationship with the product ends when it leaves the farm. It’s meaningful for us to learn what happens afterwards.
We know that today’s consumers have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the food they buy, and when given a choice, many place additional value on what Niman Ranch farmers are doing by taking the extra care to raise livestock. It feels great to get some positive feedback about what we are doing on the farm. Thanks Russ!