US - The National Pork Board has honoired Jim Meimann as the recipient of its Distinguished Service Award on 7 March.
Mr Meimann is the former senior vice president of governance and operations for the National Pork Board.
The award was presented during the National Pork Industry Forum, the industry's annual business meeting, held in San Antonio, Texas. The award is given annually to recognise the life-long contribution to the pork industry by an outstanding leader.
"Jim has provided extraordinary leadership to the pork industry," said Danita Rodibaugh, a pork producer from Rensselaer, Indiana.
"He was always respectful that the Pork Checkoff dollars that were invested came from producers. While he was a great leader, mentor and adviser, he had great respect for the Pork Checkoff as a producer-led organization in which producers made decisions on how dollars were invested."
Mr Meimann grew up on a diversified crop and livestock farm in central Iowa and attended Iowa State University. After graduation, Mr Meimann worked in a variety of jobs, including the Iowa Department of Agriculture, where he served as the assistant deputy secretary for 13 years.
In 1985, Congress passed the Pork Act, which provided for the national mandatory Checkoff.
Mr Meimann came to the National Pork Producers Council as the director of policy and administration to organize programs to comply with the Pork Act and Order. With the new mandatory Checkoff, he was instrumental in putting together the accounting, auditing and administrative structures that helped develop and execute programming.
His greatest challenge came with the hog market crash of 1998 and subsequent referendum vote in 2000. Prices plummeted, producers suffered and some even lost their farms.
One of the important jobs that Mr Meimann took on during the referendum was to help tell pork producers how their Checkoff dollars were being spent. In 2001, after the announcement and subsequent reversal of the referendum by then USDA Secretary Ann Veneman, Mr Meimann was essential in helping to separate the National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council.
After the referendum, he served as the key point of contact with the Agricultural Marketing Service, a branch of the USDA, which provides governmental oversight of the Checkoff.
He also played an important role in defending the Pork Checkoff's intellectual property and trademarks, such as Pork: The Other White Meat®.
"There was no more dedicated employee at the National Pork Board than Jim Meimann," said John Johnson, chief operations officer of the Pork Checkoff.
"His passion for the industry was genuine and ran deep. He had personal affection for the people in the industry that he knew over the years. He was committed to the success of the Pork Checkoff," he added.
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