The National Pork Board honored Barry Carpenter, retired deputy administrator of the Livestock and Seed Division of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, with its 2012 Distinguished Service Award during the National Pork Industry Forum in Denver.

In his position at USDA, Carpenter was responsible for overseeing National Pork Board programs, including the budget. He was instrumental in guiding key Pork Checkoff programs through the USDA approval process, such as the National Air Emissions Study, the launch of Pork Quality Assurance programs; purchase of The Other White Meat slogan and foreign market development programs that have helped the industry achieve record levels of pork exports.

Carpenter worked closely with the National Pork Board in 2000, following a national referendum of hog producers who had voted against continuing the Pork Checkoff. That referendum was eventually deemed illegal by a federal court, which led to a settlement agreement that shifted many of the responsibilities of the Pork Checkoff from the National Producers Council to the National Pork Board.

He was diligent in explaining to USDA leadership the importance of the industry self-help program. “At the end of the day, that was the decision that was made. Having to deliver that message to the Pork Board was very challenging, very painful, but it was something as a public servant I was obligated to do,” he explained. “Certainly my heart wasn’t in it, and I was elated when the decision got reversed.”

Jim Meimann, National Pork Board senior vice president, explained that even after the referendum was overturned, the settlement agreement required a lot of new guidelines and systems. “Barry always listened and tried to understand what we were trying to do. When the guidelines were unclear, he looked for ways to help producers get done what they wanted with their money. That takes courage and leadership. I don’t think we’d be nearly in the place we are today in terms of the ability for producers to manage their own programs,” he added.

“It is a great industry made up of a lot of families, a lot of people who really have their heart in it and I think pork is a great product,” Carpenter said of the pork industry.” Great strides have been made through production management and genetics. Those are all paying off now in the domestic and export markets and I think they will continue.”

Since his retirement from USDA in 2007, Carpenter has been serving as the chief executive officer of the National Meat Association.