National Pork Board President Karen Richter of Montgomery, MN, sees great opportunity in the year ahead helping consumers understand the value and versatility of today's pork and updating the strategic direction of America's Pork Checkoff.  The Minnesota producer was elected to head the 15-member board at a meeting held in conjunction with the recent World Pork Expo in Des Moines, IA.

“As a producer and board member, I am constantly working to make this industry better for future generations,” Richter says. “There's never a short list of challenges in the livestock industry, but we continue to evolve our programs so that the pork products we provide and the way that we operate our farms improve to meet the needs of our customers, consumers and producers.”

Richter and her family own a 600-head, wean-to-finish operation and contract 3,000 gilts through their feeder-to-finish operation. She also raises corn and soybeans on 600 acres. Richter succeeds Conley Nelson, a farmer and pork producer from Algona, IA, who will remain on the board's executive committee as immediate past president.

Richter is in her second, three-year term on the National Pork Board. She serves on the Checkoff's Domestic Marketing Committee and Pork Safety Quality and Human Nutrition Committee. She has been actively involved with the Minnesota Pork Board serving as president and secretary, as well on the local level with the Le Sueur County Pork Producers.

Also elected were Dale Norton, a pork producer from Bronson, MI, vice president; and Derrick Sleezer, a pork producer from Cherokee, IA, treasurer. The three executive officers will serve one-year terms.

“As we look ahead to this year, the pork industry has versatile, nutritious products that offer great value to consumers,” Norton says. “It's important that producers continue to build trust and share our commitment with customers and consumers.”

Norton is a partner in Kendale Farm, which is primarily a farrow-to-wean operation with 1,450 sows but also finishes about a third of the pigs. He is involved with a cow/calf operation and raises corn, soybeans, hay, peppers for processing and seed corn on more 3,500 acres.

Nationally, Norton is serving his second three-year term on the National Pork Board. He serves as the Pork Checkoff's representative on the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) and serves on the Swine Health Committee. Norton is the past chair of the Animal Welfare and Finance Committees and has served on the Pork Board's Administrative, Resolutions/Advisements and Domestic Marketing Committees.

Norton is a board member and past president of the Michigan Pork Producers and is the chair of the Michigan Swine Health Committee. He is a member of the Michigan Farm Bureau and was appointed by Governor Granholm to the Michigan Ag Commission, serving from 2005 to 2009.

Sleezer is an owner and employee of Sleezer, Inc., a farrow-to-finish, farrow-to-wean and farrow-to-feeder operation that has 700 sows and markets 15,000 hogs annually. The operation includes 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans. Sleezer also works for Kerber Companies as marketing and product support specialist and safety and compliance coordinator.

Sleezer is serving his second three-year term on the National Pork Board. He serves on the Animal Welfare, Finance and Producer and State Services Committees and represents the Pork Board on the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence Board. He is a member of the 2010 Pork Leadership Academy and an avid Operation Main Street speaker who has given more than 40 presentations, with many in urban settings.

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.