Ron Birkenholz, Communications Director
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE!
Iowa pork producers join in Japan relief effort
(CLIVE, Iowa) – The Iowa Pork Producers Association is coming to the aid of the Iowa pork industry’s top export market.
IPPA is contributing to the U.S. pork industry’s Japan relief effort by donating $100,000 in Pork Checkoff funds to purchase and distribute pork products to people in Japan who are still without adequate food and shelter due to the devastating earthquake and tsunami March 11.
“As the nation’s leader in pork production, we are proud to contribute to this relief effort,” said IPPA President Leon Sheets, a producer from Ionia. “The Japanese love Iowa pork and the island nation is a long-time trading partner and our largest customer based on value and we firmly believe that it’s incumbent upon Iowa’s pork producers to help those in need.”
The National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council announced donations in March and with the IPPA donation, the U.S. pork industry has now provided $286,000 to help the people of Japan, according to the United States Meat Export Federation.
The recovery effort in Japan is progressing, but the number of citizens and families still affected is staggering, USMEF said. An estimated 157,000 Japanese remain homeless and another 100,000 in the hard-hit northeast region are living in temporary housing. A quarter-million meals a day are being served to those affected by the disaster.
“We are deeply saddened by the March 11 events and the thoughts and prayers of an entire industry are with the families who have suffered through this unfortunate tragedy,” Sheets added.
Iowa Pork has an excellent and long-standing relationship with the Japanese and this is the second time the industry has come to Japan’s rescue. In 1959, Yamanashi Prefecture in Japan lost much of its agricultural infrastructure when it was hit by two typhoons. A U.S. Air Force sergeant from Iowa serving in Tokyo at the time worked with the U.S. embassy in Tokyo to arrange for some Iowa hogs to be shipped to Japan to help the Japanese rebuild their hog industry. To this day, much of the pork raised in Japan has genetic links to those Iowa pigs. Several Iowa pork producers were part of a group that visited Japan last summer to celebrate the 50th anniversary of what has become known as the Iowa Hog Lift.
Another group of Iowa pork producers was scheduled to visit Japan in early April, but the trip was called off in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami.
USMEF’s Tokyo office is coordinating the purchase and distribution of pork and is working with established distribution networks to ensure the food is provided to the needy.