Olympia Provisions Pork Sourcing Information
Where does our pork currently come from?
We source our pork from a variety of farms, including Malheur River Meats, Heritage Foods, Pederson’s, Coleman Ranch and more. Currently, 93% of our pork comes from farms that are 3rd party audited is are antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and humanely raised*. By 2020, we will have 100% of our pork come from 3rd party audited farms. These farms are located throughout the United States, but we are currently working on developing the structure to be able to buy locally.
*humanely raised is defined differently depending on the verification the farm
What kind of claims do our pork sources support?
Many of the farms we work with are 3rd party audited to ensure that they are fulfilling our animal welfare standards. By 2020, we will require that our farmer partners have one of the following certifications:
GAP Certification: GAP (Global Animal Partnership) has multiple levels of certifications for pig farming because they believe “Pig farms vary significantly depending on geography and climate”. But no matter the level of verification, all GAP certified farms:
- do not use farrowing crates or gestation stalls
- never use antibiotics
- never add hormones
- never use animal by-products
- are audited by a 3rd party ever 15 months
- To see every level of GAP certification, visit their website: https://globalanimalpartnership.org/standards/pig/.
American Humane Association: American Humane created the first welfare certification program in the United States to help ensure the humane treatment of farm animals. The American Humane Certified™ program provides third-party, independent audits to help verify that certified producers’ care and handling of farm animals meet the science-based animal welfare standards of American Humane. The program provides ongoing outreach to farmers in the implementation of the best humane practices for animals. For pig farming, American Humane Association Certified farms:
- only use stalls when recommended by a veterinarian
- when crates are used they are large enough for sows to lie and feed
- no growth hormones
- antibiotic free unless for therapeutic reasons when prescribed by a veterinarian
- teeth clipping only to prevent injury
- bedding must be flat and dry at all times
- Are 3rd party audited
OP Approval: We recognize that not every farmer is going to invest in a 3rd party certification, but we believe it is important for every business to have an outside party audit systems and operations. That is why if we choose to work with a farmer who is not 3rd party audited, we require that our team goes and audits the farm ourselves so we can ensure they meet our standards. The farms that we approve meet the following requirements:
- do not live in confinement
- no growth hormones
- antibiotic free
- No teeth clipping or tail docking
Why aren’t we sourcing 100% locally?
When we started 10 years ago, we did all we could to source from local farms with farmers we knew. As we grew, the supply for Pacific Northwest Hogs did not support our demand. But further than that, we have always been pushing our partners and farmers we work with to better their practices and in recent years we’ve seen some of our local partners take their foot off the pedal and stop improving their farming. Even though not each of our farms is local, we currently source a majority of our pork from farms that are approved by third party certifications to ensure their practices fall in line with our values. When it came down to it, we chose to weigh “local” against “environmental” and “humanely-raised”; we chose with the latter two.
What’s our vision for the future?
While not every one of our pork suppliers is local to us or a farmer we know, we are currently building an infrastructure to be able to purchase pork locally and improve the Oregon agriculture system. Our vision for the future of our sourcing is that our farmer’s will use pigs as a way to improve the environment, pigs are a way for farmer’s to find profitability in their business, and pigs will be the path to growing our local agriculture system. In the next 5-10 years we will partner with these farmer’s to fix a very broken industry by setting up systems to help coordinate affordable transportation between hog operations and slaughter, setting up financials models that can be used to analyze and lower costs, educating on how to use pigs to regenerate the land, and by being the pork demand for the whole animal in Oregon. Learn more about the specifics of this vision here.
What motivates our vision?
A lot of people can come out and say they have a vision to make the world a better place, but we want you to know what is driving our vision.
Our 4 Motivators
- Animal Husbandry: Studies have shown that animals raised in confinement heighten the risk of spreading food-borne illnesses. Crammed into tight confinement areas in massive numbers, factory farm animals often become caked with their own feces. Animal waste is the primary source of infectious bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, which affect human populations through contaminated food and water. The CDC believes that contaminated meat and poultry infections affect 3 million people each year.
- Environmental Impact: Today, the pig farming practices found in most of America play major roles in the air and water quality of their surrounding communities. When hogs are raised in confinement, their waste and feces are often put into what is called a “pig lagoon” where the waste is mixed with water to break down the feces. When the lagoons get full, they are then emptied through a sprinkler system onto nearby fields, making an odor that is so strong it makes it impossible for the surrounding neighbors unable to go outside. If the lagoons are not drained, they will overflow and can enter into surrounding streams or other water sources. Unlike human biosolids, which must meet regulatory standards for pathogen levels, vector attraction reduction and metal content, there are no similar standards and requirements for CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) waste. North Carolina, America’s second largest pig producing state, has seen some of the worst effects of this. In 2018 during Hurricane Florence, over 7 million gallons of swine feces overflowed and entered into surrounding waterways. But these floods are not uncommon.
- Antibiotic Impact: In large and industrial hog operations, antibiotics are used to promote faster growth in the animal while feeding less. The animals are pumped with antibiotics at a very young age. What has been found is that after the animals are pumped with these antibiotics, they develop a deadly bacteria called MRSA, which is drug resistant. MRSA can easily be spread to humans simply by touching the animal and is contagious once one humans contracts the bacteria. MRSA has been known to cause deadly skin, blood and lung infections.
- Labor Practices: Today the meat industry has been recognized as one of the most dangerous industries to work in throughout the United States. The industry is known for creating workplaces that not only deny worker rights, but basic human rights. Immigrant workers are an increasing percentage of the workforce within the meat packing industry and experience some of the worst effects of bad workplace practices. Language difficulties often prevent them from being aware of their rights under the law and of specific hazards in their work. If immigrant workers are undocumented, deportation is a huge risk if they seek to improve their working conditions.
We see these four things as our motivators, the things that we are working everyday to change. The pork industry is a big, established industry that has been excused for it’s mistakes for years, but we believe that with a system that certifies the correct farming and slaughter practices, the industry can be changed.