Iowa Pork Producers Continue Half-Century of Aid

JAPAN - The people of Iowa have a special connection with Japan dating back more than 50 years. When two typhoons devastated the Japanese prefecture of Yamanashi in 1959, Iowans stepped forward to help rebuild the region’s hog industry by donating 35 hogs and 1,500 tons of corn to feed them.
calendar icon 23 June 2011
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This spring after a destructive earthquake and tsunami rocked northeastern Japan, the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) once again stepped to the fore, contributing $100,000 to the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Relief and Recovery Effort designed to help those most in need by providing displaced people with a hot, nutritious meal containing US pork.

887 meals of US pork yakiniku (Korean style BBQ) were served to the evacuees

Evacuees line up for a hot meal of US pork

USMEF provided a packed house of IPPA members with an update last week on relief efforts in Japan funded by their contribution. John Hinners, USMEF’s assistant vice president of industry relations, told the gathering that IPPA contributions over the course of the spring and summer will provide hot meals for an estimated 30,000 people in the region most affected by the natural disaster.

The IPPA contributions are supporting a number of different activities throughout the Tohoku region, including several collaborative efforts with the Japanese Itoham Foods Company which will provide an estimated 8,200 meals. Similar collaborative efforts are being facilitated by USMEF with Takizawa Ham Company, restaurant chain Skylark, Minami Soma Schools and others. In one setting, USMEF partnered with Prima Ham and the 29ers non-profit organization to serve about 900 meals of US pork yakiniku (Korean-style barbecue) to evacuees in Iwate Prefecture who have been without hot meals with meat since the earthquake.

For three days in May, USMEF supported the distribution of 1,600 meals of ginger pork and pork miso soup to people at three junior high schools in Miyagi Prefecture. And earlier this month, Iowa Pork’s contribution provided 500 meals of steamed pork to evacuees at a shelter in Kesennuma through a non-profit organization established by prominent Japanese television personality Kuniaki Shimizu.

“As the nation’s leader in pork production, we are proud to contribute to this relief effort,“ said Leon Sheets, IPPA president and a pork producer from Ionia, Iowa. “The Japanese love Iowa pork, and the island nation is both a long-time trading partner and our largest customer based on value. We firmly believe that it is incumbent upon Iowa’s pork producers to help those in need.“

IPPA is not the only American producer organization to offer its support to the people of Japan through the USMEF effort. National Pork Board also has committed $100,000, National Pork Producers Council donated $25,000, Minnesota Pork Producers Association has given $50,000, Indiana Pork has contributed $10,000 and Kentucky Pork Producers Association has given $1,000.

Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the Federation of State Beef Councils each have contributed $100,000 while the Washington Cattlemen’s Association auctioned off a heifer raising $18,000. In addition, individuals have contributed from $100 to $500 each.

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