The National Pork Board announced its new America’s Pig Farmer of the YearSM award program during its annual Pork Industry Forum meeting in San Antonio. The award will honor the U.S. pork producer who best excels at raising pigs using the We Care ethical principles and wants to share how he or she does that to the public.
The program, which opens its six-week nomination window on April 1, builds on many elements behind the successful 20-year run of the now-retired Environmental Stewards Award program.
“The public is the main audience rather than our own industry because that’s who has questions about how we raise pigs,” said Brad Greenway, vice president of the National Pork Board and chairman of the Stewards Task Force, which oversaw creation of the new program. “Producers demonstrate the We Care ethical principles on their farms every day, and the new award is a unique way to share that with the public,” he said.
The intent is to establish the winner as a practical expert in pig handling and pork production, according to Kevin Waetke, vice president of strategic communications for the Pork Checkoff. “Consistent with the National Pork Board’s new strategic plan, we want to build consumer trust through on-farm transparency and accountability,” he said. “The focus is on environmental sustainability, along with animal welfare, production efficiency, the adoption of best practices and a commitment to continuous improvement.”
Third-party judges will help determine the recipient, with the winner announced during National Pork Month in October. The public will be engaged during the final judging process via the Pork Checkoff’s social media outlets. Short video clips of the finalists will be displayed at americaspigfarmer.com, where people can vote for their favorite.
“I encourage producers to consider applying or to encourage other producers who would be great candidates to do so,” Greenway said. “This new award will showcase what we do best – raise pigs in an ethical, responsible and transparent way.”
All U.S. producers are welcome to apply April 1 to May 15, with instructions found at americaspigfarmer.com or via the link on pork.org. Specific details also will be available through state pork associations.
The National Pork Board has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health, pork safety and environmental management. For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675 or check the Internet at www.pork.org.