Promoting Pork Producers is Trish Cook’s Passion
She may be the first female president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, but Trish Cook of Buchanan County is also the first to downplay the distinction.
“I have a lot of passion for our industry – for the people and the animals,” says Trish, who served on the IPPA board for four years before being elected president in January 2023. “I really don’t think about it as being the first female. Like so many others, when a job needs to get done, I just do it!”
Trish was one of eight kids to grow up on the family farm in Eastern Iowa, where her parents raised corn, soybeans, pigs, cattle and turkeys. While she helped on the farm when needed, Trish was much more interested in the business classes she took in high school, especially accounting, which she majored in at Iowa State University. She worked 11 years at Rockwell Collins in finance and accounting before leaving to help run the farm that she and her husband, Aaron, built near Winthrop, Iowa. By then, the couple had three kids: Holly, Spencer and Kirby.
“We raised our kids on the same farm as we raise pigs,” Trish says. “I couldn’t think of a better place to raise a family.”
Trish and Aaron are third-generation farmers. After graduating with an ag studies degree from ISU, Aaron returned to the family farm and over time built a 1,200-sow, farrow-to-finish pig farm, which markets 32,000 pigs annually. The farm also includes 1,200 acres of corn and soybeans. In past years, the Cooks have been named Master Pork Producers as well as IPPA Pork All-Americans.
On the farm, Aaron oversees the grain operations, feed delivery from the mill, equipment maintenance and four employees, while Trish manages human resources, payroll and accounting. She also sources all ingredients, including amino acids, soybean meal and corn, to run their on-farm feed mill. Aaron’s dad and uncle retired from the farm in 2022 but still help out in the fall and spring.
“Our family is proud to raise nutritious, delicious pork,” Trish says. “When people ask me what I do for a living, I am always proud to tell them that I am a hog farmer!”
Besides advocating for pork produces every day, Trish looks for opportunities to raise public awareness about the industry. One of her favorite marketing campaigns to date is IPPA’s viral “Purchase Moore Hamann Bacon” with Iowa State football players. IPPA partnered with the four ISU athletes — Myles Purchase, Tyler Moore, Tommy Hamann and Caleb Bacon — to create the promotion, which became a viral sensation with more than 10 million impressions.
“This has been such a fun marketing campaign,” Trish says. “We started with Purchase Moore Hamann Bacon, and then added (Alec) Cook and (Zach) Lovett to the mix.”
The light-hearted promotion to encourage people to buy more pork products — specifically ham and bacon — resulted in donations of more than $10,000 worth of pork to food pantries selected by the six ISU players. That equates to more than 13,300 servings of pork to help fight food insecurity.
“We’re grateful that this promotion came along at a good time to put smiles on a lot of people’s faces, including Iowa’s hard-working pig farmers,” Trish says. “The players have been fantastic to work with, and we’re glad to support them through this (name, image and likeness) agreement.”
One of Trish’s favorite recipes includes pork, of course! This Cuban braid is both beautiful and tasty. When Trish makes it, she says “it really does look like the picture!”
Here’s a video to see how to make it. Video courtesy of Iowa Pork.
- One 13.8 ounce tube refrigerated pizza dough
- 8 slices Swiss cheese
- 2 cups shredded pork
- ¼ pound sliced ham
- 1/3 cup dill pickle relish
- 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon parsley flakes
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 375 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Unroll the pizza dough onto a cutting board and press into a rectangle. Use a pizza cutter to cut each side of the braid into 12 strips.
- In the center of the dough, layer 4 slices of cheese, the shredded pork, relish, mustard, ham and then the remaining 4 slices of cheese. Fold the strips of dough over the filling, alternating sides.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water to make an egg wash. Brush over the braid. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
- In a small bowl, mix the melted butter, parsley and garlic powder, then brush over the warm braid.
- Slice and serve warm.