When the Chips are Down, Kindness Wins

When Steve Rommereim called me up out of the blue, I remember exactly where I was standing in my house when he told me a story of generosity that doesn’t happen very often. 

I’ll never forget the emotion I heard in Steve’s voice as he shared how a fellow pig farmer and friend sacrificed an opportunity to take a load of pigs to market for Steve’s sake.

“I was speechless,” he said. “No one just gives up a load of hogs in a time like this.” 

But Scott Phillips did. And with a heartfelt desire to help his South Dakota friend avoid making the painful decision to euthanize heavy market hogs. 

As the stories from the when the plants shuttered began to emerge, the overwhelming kindness and support that pig farmers showed each other in a time of great uncertainty and fear was incredible. 

Even though the plants are back up and running at over 90% capacity again, a backlog of hogs waiting to go to market remains. Producers continue to grapple with tough decisions and experience great losses. The heaviness isn’t gone, but the generosity extended from farmer to farmer during this time makes it more bearable.

Just ask Ashlyn Imus with Smock Farms in Idaville, Ind. When they went from selling 10 to 20 loads of market hogs each week to one load each week, they were devastated. At that point, their veterinarian Aaron Lower of Carthage Veterinary Service (CVS) encouraged them to contact a landfill.

“That was completely gut wrenching to hear,” Ashlyn said. “Like that feeling when your heart actually breaks.”

However, thanks to coordinated efforts at CVS, they were able to trade loads with other producers they didn’t even know in order to avoid euthanasia. 

These stories remind me that at first glance, our struggles can seem insurmountable. But with determination and resiliency mixed in with a little kindness, we can continue to find ways to move forward. It may not look exactly like the path we wanted to be on, but that doesn’t mean great things won’t come out of it.

Earlier this month, swine veterinarian John Waddell with Boehringer Ingelheim shared his perspective of veterinary medicine and what he’s learned about business and leadership strategy along the way. He also opened up about COVID-19’s impact on the industry.

He said, “I am of the strong belief that producers are resilient and will come out of this stronger and better.” 

There’s no question the pork industry has been put through the wringer and it’s not over yet, but I hope these stories remind you of what makes this worth 
the struggle. 

Find these stories at:

Speechless: The Call That Saved One Hog Producer’s Farm

How Smock Farms Survived Plant Closures

PORK Perspectives: A Minute with John Waddell