US - The National Pork Board has announced the four finalists who are vying for the title of its new America’s Pig Farmer of the Year award programme.
The goal of the programme is to honour the US pig farmer who best excels at raising pigs using the 'We Care' ethical principles and is best able to share his or her farming story with the American public.
“The four finalists represent the diverse pork industry in the United States,” said National Pork Board President Derrick Sleezer, a farmer from Cherokee, Iowa. “They all have shown a focus on environmental sustainability, animal welfare and continuous improvement.”
The four finalists (listed below) are meeting with an expert panel of judges in Chicago. The judges will view on-farm videos produced at the finalists’ farms and will conduct an in-person interview with each of them.
Starting today, until 10 September, the public can vote once a day per person or per email address for their favourite finalist, by clicking here. The winner will be announced on 7 October.
The award, in its inaugural year, is part of the National Pork Board’s commitment to grow consumer trust in all aspects of US pork production.
About the Finalists
Marti Knoblock – Rock Rapids, Iowa
Marti Knoblock is one of the family owners of GMC Farms, located near Rock Rapids, Iowa. Founded in 1980, GMC Farms is co-owned by Marti and his brothers, Mitch Knoblock and Morris Metzger.
GMC Farms raises pigs in modern slatted, curtain-sided barns with deep pits and markets 23,000 pigs annually. The family also raises corn, soybeans and cattle.
Steve Kerns – Clearfield, Iowa
Founded in 1966, Kerns Farms started as a 4-H project and has grown into a full-scale seedstock operation. Steve and Becky Kerns manage their farm with the help of sons, Karl and Matt, as well as three employees.
They market 10,000 pigs annually, with the 320-acre farm’s facilities including hoop barns, open lots and curtain-sided and mechanically ventilated barns.
Lauren Schwab – Somerville, Ohio
Lauren Schwab proudly works as a second-generation farmer on the 230-acre farm founded in 1977 by her father, Jeff. The farrow-to-wean farm is home to 12 independent barns that house 1,100 sows.
The modern barns provide the proper environment for the sows, which are individually cared for and observed daily to assess their needs. The sows produce about 30,000 piglets a year, which are then sold to other farmers for finishing.
Keith Schoettmer – Tipton, Indiana
Keith and Darla Schoettmer founded Schoettmer Prime Pork in 1987. The farm has grown steadily over the years despite many changes in the pork industry.
Today, they raise 22,000 pigs annually on the farrow-to-finish farm with the help of eight full-time employees.
About the Expert Judging Panel
Members of the five-member expert judging panel are Dr Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association; Carlos Saviani, vice president of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) US food team; Mitzi Dulan, a registered dietitian and a nationally recognised nutrition and wellness expert to the Kansas City Royals; Chris Soules, a farmer from Arlington, Iowa, and television star from The Bachelor and Dancing with the Stars; and Jodi Sterle, an associate professor of animal science at Iowa State University and a nationally known youth advisor in livestock exhibition.
About the Contest
The National Pork Board created the America’s Pig Farmer of the Year contest in order to recognise the best in pig farming. This prestigious honour will be awarded annually to the pig farmer who demonstrates and lives by the We Care ethical principles.
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