A successful, dynamic industry requires strong leadership, commitment and vision. Hundreds of men and women have worked tirelessly to mold the pork industry during the five decades National Hog Farmer has been published.
In an effort to recognize some of the people who were instrumental in shaping the U.S. pork industry, we put out a call for nominations. Over 200 men and women were nominated in 15 categories, but the contributions of many were not limited by such a designation.
We gathered nine past and current National Hog Farmer editors, spanning our 50 years, to tackle the arduous task of narrowing the field to just 50. (Their photos and brief biographies appear below.)
The 50 men and women selected, and the other nominees listed in italic at the end of each category, reads like a veritable “Who's Who in the U.S. Pork Industry.”
National Hog Farmer salutes these bold leaders, scientists, mentors, innovators, teachers and visionaries. The list is not complete, of course. For those we missed, we apologize. Their absence here in no way lessens their contributions.
Please join us as we tip our hats to the National Hog Farmer's Top 50 men and women who truly made a difference in the U.S. pork industry.
Roy & Myrtle Keppy, Davenport, IA
Patriarch of a long line of Keppy family leaders in the pork industry, Roy, with the untiring support of his wife, Myrtle, was instrumental in the origin and early development of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). A member of the famed “Moline 90,” Keppy wrote the first check to build funds for a new industry organization and dedicated endless hours to solidifying the organization's position in agriculture.
Keppy served on dozens of livestock and grain boards, was the seventh president of NPPC, served the National Livestock & Meat Board for 15 years, including two as chairman, and was a strong proponent of efficient meat-type hogs, demonstrated by the many champion barrows and truckloads he produced.
The Keppys' Glendale Farm was a diversified, family farming operation. Roy received many accolades during the years, including the National Hog Farmer Outstanding Service Award and induction into the Pork Industry Hall of Fame. In the words of his four children, “This Iowa man taught the principles for success to everyone he touched.”
Philip Bradshaw, Griggsville, IL
Pork producer Philip Bradshaw continues to travel the globe representing agriculture.
He serves with a U.S.-international agency on foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) eradication. In late April, he was in Mexico for a meeting on efforts to rid South America of FMD.
In early April, he was in Vietnam representing soybean producers. Since 2004, Bradshaw has served as a director for the U.S. United Soybean Board.
Throughout the years, he has served as an emissary for agricultural groups in trips to numerous foreign countries on animal health, grain and trade issues.
Bradshaw continues to serve as chairman of the National Pseudorabies Control Board, a post he has held since 1986.
He was president of the United States Animal Health Association in 1988-89 and served as the chairman of the Livestock Conservation Institute (LCI) board from 1985-87. He was president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association from 1971-74.
Bradshaw was presented the Illinois Pork Industry Service Award in 1974, the Service Award from the Illinois Pork Producers Association in 1976, Meritorious Service Award from LCI in 1982, the USDA Animal Health Award in 1995 and the Illinois Department of Agriculture Commendation for Outstanding Service in 1999.
George Brauer, Oakford, IL
Innovator, leader and pork promoter characterizes the life of George Brauer.
Brauer pioneered the concept of modern hog production by building the first hog confinement building in the United States with slotted floors in 1958. Over the years, he shared his innovations at Brauer Pork with thousands of visitors from around the world.
He served three years as president of the first state group, the Illinois Swine Herd Improvement Association.
He chaired the Hog Cholera Eradication Committee during the entire eradication effort.
Brauer was a member of the “Moline 90” producer group that raised seed money to start the National Pork Producers Council. He spent countless hours urging producers to participate in the voluntary pork checkoff program and promoted pork before the “Pork. The Other White Meat” campaign was launched.
Brauer has received the National Hog Farmer Service Award and was inducted into the Pork Industry Hall of Fame.
Don Gingerich, Parnell, IA
Don Gingerich was known as a quiet pork producer leader, whether focused on the national pseudorabies (PRV) eradication program or the mandatory pork checkoff, both of which were enhanced by his efforts.
Gingerich worked in many official capacities, serving as president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association in 1981-1982 and as president of the National Pork Producers Council in 1989-1990.
He was instrumental in improving pork quality through introduction of the Pork Quality Assurance Program and establishment of a long-range industry goal to make pork the meat of choice by the year 2000.
Gingerich left a legacy of being able to connect regulatory officials with pork producers in advancing PRV and other programs, and in improving the effectiveness and credibility of NPPC's programs in Washington, DC.
Wendell H. Murphy, Rose Hill, NC
Wendell Murphy took a small hog operation that he built from the ground up in the early 1960s and turned it into one of the largest pork-producing companies in the world when he sold it to Smithfield Foods in January of 2000.
Murphy graduated from North Carolina State University in 1960 and taught agriculture at a local high school for five years.
He built a feedmill in 1962 and started raising hogs fulltime in 1968. His first hog operation was decimated by hog cholera. But he rebounded by setting up one of the country's first hog contracts with his tobacco-farming neighbors.
His contracting business bloomed, helping to develop a strong pork industry in North Carolina and adding strength to the Midwest pork industry.
Albert Gehlbach, Lincoln, IL
In 1946, Gehlbach stepped away from the traditional diversified farming operation to specialize in pork production. Soon after, he was instrumental in organizing one of the first county pork producer groups in the nation. He rose to state and national pork producer leadership roles and stood as a strong advocate of market checkoff programs as a means of funding programs to improve the pork industry.
Gehlbach worked many years to develop the checkoff plan that was initiated in his term as president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in 1968. He was also instrumental in affecting an agreement between the National Live Stock & Meat Board and the NPPC that clarified their shares of checkoff funds.
Gehlbach worked closely with the University of Illinois and pioneered new developments in pork facility design. He earned National Hog Farmer's Outstanding Service Award in 1968 and was inducted into the Pork Industry Hall of Fame in 1986.
Russ & Mary Jeckel, Delavan, IL
Pork production has truly been a family experience for Russ and Mary Jeckel. Russ was active with development of the Illinois Swine Herd Association and served as president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association in 1965.
Mary was active in state and national groups. She was a charter member of the Illinois Porkettes and served as national president from 1966 to 1968.
The Jeckels began raising feeder pigs in 1950, then moved to farrow-to-finish, adapting as the industry changed. They were early innovators, credited with pioneering the partial-slotted floor concept and the use of open-front confinement barns.
A few years back, they sold their sow herd and now finish pigs while continuing to raise corn and soybeans. Several of their children are active in the farming operation.
Both Russ and Mary were inducted into the Pork Industry Hall of Fame in 1996.
Ray & Ellen Hankes, Council Bluffs, IA
The Hankeses have approached the pork industry from many angles.
Ray began his pork career teaching and coaching meats classes and judging at the University of Illinois. In 1974, the Hankeses became owners-operators-partners in Thrushwood Farms, an 800-sow, farrow-to-finish operation near Fairbury, IL, and an associated quality meats business.
Ray chaired the committee that initiated the highly successful “Pork. The Other White Meat” campaign.
While he was president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the world's largest commodity-specific trade show, World Pork Expo, was launched and an historic referendum to assure continuation of the pork checkoff was conducted. He is also past president of the National Pork Board.
Ellen served as president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association and was a producer member of the National Environmental Dialog on Pork Production.
In 1999, Ray joined IBP Inc., Dakota Dunes, SD, as assistant to the president in the fresh meats division.
Later, he became manager of Tyson Fresh Meats, Goodlettsville, TN, and has recently moved to Tyson Fresh Meats' Council Bluffs plant as manager.
Ellen served as coordinator of the Illinois Coalition for Animal Agriculture, Inc. in the late '90s, and is currently a consultant for Environmental Management Systems, LLC, based in Des Moines.
Donna Reifschneider, Smithton, IL
Donna Reifschneider has been involved in local, county, state and national farm organizations for more than 30 years.
She joined the St. Clair County (IL) Pork Producers, then served as district director for the Illinois Porkettes. She was president of the Illinois Pork Association Women in 1988-89.
Reifschneider served as Illinois' national director to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) from 1992 to 1999. She became the first woman president of NPPC in 1998-99. She also negotiated trade issues with a multitude of international trading partners.
From 1999 through 2002, she was a member of the executive committee of the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
Reifschneider also participated in Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar's Committee on Animal Agriculture, the University of Illinois Blue Ribbon Task Force on Extension, and the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation.
In 2002, she was named administrator of the USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). Reifschneider left GIPSA in December 2004 to return to her family's hog farm in Smithton, IL.
Willard & Carnell Korsmeyer, Beardstown, IL
For more than 40 years, Willard and Carnell Korsmeyer were known as the most effective “power couple” for the pork industry.
Willard always said he was almost famous for all the wrong reasons. His was one of the first farms to become infected with pseudorabies (PRV) in 1975. Lessons learned during the '70s and '80s fighting pseudorabies (PRV) brought Willard's talents to bear in membership on the National Pork Producers Council's PRV Committee. There, he championed an industry-wide effort to eradicate PRV.
Carnell concentrated her industry service in pork promotion and policy-making leadership roles, first with the National Porkettes, later serving on various National Pork Board committees and as president, 1996-97.
Throughout their careers, the Korsmeyers reinforced their long-standing conviction that “if we are going to be involved with an endeavor, we should commit ourselves to make the best possible effort.”
Lorraine Harness, New Hartford, MO
Lorraine Harness was very active in local, state and national pork producer affairs.
She served two years as county president, was state treasurer and served six years as national director for the Missouri Pork Council Women.
Harness served on the National Pork Council Women (NPCW) committees on membership and promotion, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Building Committee, the State and Associate Relations Policy Development Group, the Resource Development Policy Group and both NPCW and NPPC executive committees.
Harness served two terms as NPCW vice president and one term as NPCW president. She emphasized revitalizing producer membership, animal welfare, pork quality and the Speaker Care Program to increase interest in becoming industry spokespersons. Harness emphasized the vital role that women could play in being effective communicators for agriculture and the pork industry.
Harness is a graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in accounting and went on to complete an MBA degree. She taught economics and accounting at a junior college, worked for Cargill in finance and management and was self-employed as a financial analyst for agricultural businesses.
Also nominated: Bernard Collins; Robert Dykhuis; John Hardin, Jr.; Ron Kahle; Ralph Howe; Moe Mohesky; John Saunders; Jack Rundquist; Allen Keppy; William Prestage; Mike Wehler; Paul McNutt; Marion Steddom; Glenn Keppy; Eldon Juhl; Bob Christensen; Ken & Julie Maschhoff; LaVerne (Dutch) Johnson; William Rothenberger; Bill Buller; Ritchie & Millie Jordan; Charles R. Miller; Roy Sharp; Karl Johnson; Linden Olson; Jon Caspers; Jasper DeVore and Carmen Jorgensen.
Emmett Stevermer, Ames, IA
Most notable about the 26-year career of Iowa State University (ISU) swine Extension agent Emmet Stevermer was his development of the Iowa Swine Enterprise Accounting System, used by hundreds of pork producers.
Stevermer developed the system in the late '60s, before producers realized the importance of keeping records, says a colleague.
He served on the advisory committee of the National Pork Industry Handbook since it began, three years on the Reproduction Committee of the National Swine Improvement Federation and seven years on the Production Committee of the National Pork Producers Council.
He provided primary leadership for the Iowa Master Pork Producers Program for 25 years, and was named an Honorary Iowa Master Pork Producer in 1975. He also received Iowa State's Outstanding Extension Educator Award in 1980 and the Extension Award from the American Society of Animal Science in 1986.
Glenn Grimes, Columbia, MO
Glenn Grimes' remarkable 50-plus-year career in the livestock industry started out in 1951 when he was a county agricultural Extension agent in southern Missouri.
Following that five-year stint, he served from 1956 to 1985 as livestock marketing specialist for the Missouri Extension Service.
From 1970 to 1984, Grimes also taught a course in livestock marketing at the University of Missouri-Columbia and assisted with research projects in livestock marketing each year. He authored or co-authored numerous publications or scientific journal articles and thousands of popular press articles on livestock production, livestock prices and marketing.
From 1985 to the present, Grimes has been semi-retired and holds the rank of professor emeritus, while working part-time in the University of Missouri's Department of Agricultural Economics.
He has consulted for 30 organizations and individuals, including the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board.
Grimes was honored with the President's Award from the Missouri Pork Producers Association in 2001, the Distinguished Service Award from National Hog Farmer in 1993 and the Distinguished Service Award from the National Pork Producers Council in 1994.
George Richard (Dick) Carlisle, Broken Bow, OK
Dick Carlisle's accomplishments during his 26 years at the University of Illinois rank him as one of the foremost livestock extension specialists in the nation. His achievements include:
Helped start live hog evaluation and carcass demonstrations, which led to producer acceptance of the value of carcass merit;
Guided development of the “Probe and Weigh” Program and eight producer-owned test stations;
Helped organize the state spring barrow show;
Guided the start of cooperative marketing of feeder pigs and feeder cattle;
Coordinated county and multi-county swine schools and seminars; and
Helped popularize the Illinois fortified corn-soy swine ration now used throughout the United States.
Carlisle was well respected as a swine judge at county, state and national levels. And, he contributed to the advancement of research into beef cattle and swine nutrition programs.
He was the recipient of the National Pork Producers Council Distinguished Service Award in 1988, the Illinois Purebred Swine Council Distinguished Service Award and the National Hog Farmer Distinguished Service Award.
The Department of Animal Sciences established the G.R. Carlisle Award for Excellence in Extension Teaching when he retired in 1977.
Gilbert Hollis, Urbana, IL
Gilbert Hollis retired as a swine extension specialist at the University of Illinois in 2003, after 33 years of service, 26 in Illinois and seven in Texas.
Hollis now serves as emeritus and part-time swine specialist at the University of Illinois. He has excelled in helping pork producers of all types and sizes survive and adapt.
He was instrumental in organizing the University of Illinois Pork Industry Conferences and the Executive Producer Program.
He created the highly popular PorkNet Web site and is a certified assessor for the On-Farm Assessment and Environmental Review. Additionally, he advises two pork producer buying co-ops in the state.
Among his achievements are the Education and Distinguished Service awards from the Illinois Pork Producers Association, the Department of Animal Sciences G.R. Carlisle Award for Excellence in Extension Teaching, the Senior Faculty Award for Excellence in Extension from the University of Illinois College of Agriculture and the Extension Award from the American Society of Animal Science.
Don Levis, Ithaca, NE
Don Levis' track record as an extension swine specialist at the University of Nebraska and director of the Ohio Pork Industry Center spans several decades.
Levis has consulted with an estimated 1,136 swine enterprises in the United States and worked in 11 foreign countries, providing essential information, training and troubleshooting swine reproductive problems.
Levis has spoken at more than 600 pork producer meetings, and published more than 140 Extension-type publications on swine breeding facility design, artificial insemination and reproductive management. And, he has developed numerous computer software programs dealing with breeding and housing.
He has received more than a dozen service awards including those sponsored by the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.
Levis now serves as an extension educator with the Saunders County Extension Service in Ithaca, NE.
Ed Miller, East Lansing, MI
Described as a “doer,” not a “philosopher,” Ed Miller presented his practical approach and knowledge to all facets of pork production from his early years in county Extension work through his Extension swine specialist career at Michigan State University (MSU).
Miller was responsible for the University Swine Center, where he coordinated research in swine nutrition, physiology, waste management, and taught swine production courses. He was widely recognized for designing innovative, under-slat flushing systems and improving water recycling methods.
Miller formed the first Michigan Farm Management Tour, launched the MSU Annual Swine Day, and introduced on-campus swine short courses. He was largely responsible for establishing the swine testing station and live hog grading at several markets in the state — considered a real breakthrough. He also brought the Spring Barrow Show to campus, which allowed him to demonstrate how production and marketing practices relate to the final quality and value of the product.
Miller was a leader in the state's hog cholera eradication program, which resulted in Michigan being one of the first to be declared hog cholera-free. He also helped organize the National Swine Growers' Council in 1954 and became the first university staff person to serve on the board of directors.
Wilbur Bruner, Columbus, OH
Sometimes referred to as the “father of swine performance testing,” Wilbur Bruner was instrumental in establishing the first test station in the United States.
In 1946, serving as an extension agent in Preble County, OH, Bruner set up pens in the fairground's hog barn to measure the true production costs of different types of pigs. Although a bit crude, the arrangement was the precursor to test stations built and popularized across the United States in succeeding decades.
Bruner's tenacity in advancing performance testing, and his personal service to pork producers in teaching meat hog production and pork improvement, earned him accolades across the country. More precisely, his work was recognized for its many contributions to the Meat-Type Hog Education committee and was presented the American Society of Animal Production Extension award. In 1962, he received the National Hog Farmer Outstanding Service award.
Michael C. Brumm, Concord, NE
For more than two decades, University of Nebraska Extension Swine Specialist Mike Brumm has been a leading source of practical production information to pork producers.
Brumm is considered an expert in grow-finish swine management systems and is also known as a strong proponent of production recordkeeping systems.
Brumm is recognized nationally and internationally for his ability to apply economic impact to management decisions.
A speaker at more than 600 pork industry meetings, Brumm has consulted on more than 1,200 hog operations.
He also has authored numerous articles in animal science, veterinary and pork production journals, dealing with everything from space allocation and nutrition in grow-finish systems to managing growth variation.
Brumm has served on various committees for the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board and on the advisory committee to the Pork Industry Handbook.
Awards include a Pork Industry Service Award from the Nebraska Pork Producers Association in 1992 and Excellence in Extension Programming in 1988 from the Nebraska Cooperative Extension Association.
M.D. “Mack” Whitaker, Lexington, KY
“Enthusiastic, dedicated and unique personality” are words most often used to describe “Mack” Whitaker's career with the Extension Service and his unyielding support of the pork industry.
His jovial manner and quick wit served him well as swine extension specialist at Iowa State University from 1961 to 1967. In 1967, he moved to the University of Kentucky as extension professor of animal science, a position he held until 1981, when he assumed an administrator's role at the university until his retirement.
Born and raised in Kentucky, Whitaker graduated from the University of Kentucky with a doctor of philosophy degree in 1961. A popular judge at swine shows throughout the world, he spent countless hours helping pork producers solve problems, promoting the checkoff, grilling pork chops, educating and entertaining producers and consumers.
Whitaker served as co-chairman of the Louisville Barrow Show for many years. In 1980, he was recognized with the National Hog Farmer Outstanding Service Award.
Also nominated: Bill Luce; Robert Fritschen; Wayne Singleton; J.R. (Bob) Jones; Gene Isler; Jim Foster; Vern Mayrose; Jack Kelly; H.G. Zavoral; Harry Russell; Wendall Moyer; Ralph (Bull) Durham; T.D. Tanksley; Dave Spruill; Maynard Hogberg.
Arthur J. Muehling, Champaign, IL
Art Muehling served the University of Illinois as professor and extension agricultural engineer from 1959 through 1992, when he retired as professor emeritus.
Muehling's contributions to the pork industry were concentrated in three areas:
Pioneered intensive systems for swine housing for 40 years and was an early advocate of slotted floors.
Developed and promoted “best management practices” for livestock manure management to safeguard the environment before environmental stewardship became a public issue.
Built close cooperation between the United States and European experts on swine housing and manure handling systems through his 30-year association as the U.S. representative to Section 2 (Farm Buildings) of the International Society of Agricultural Engineering.
In 1968-69, the National Pork Producers Council funded a study by Muehling, entitled, “Swine Housing and Waste Management — A Research Review,” used throughout the United States and many other countries. Six fact sheets were developed to help producers with swine facility design and management questions.
Muehling received the Illinois Pork Producers Association Education Award in 1974, the Farm Builders Hall of Fame award in 1984 and the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service Award for Sustained Excellence in 1985.
Also nominated: Lyle B. White; Frank Brummer; Al Mueller; Vern Meyer; Tommy Herring; Chuck Sands; Bynum Driggers; Al Sutton.
Lauren Christian, Ames, IA
Born and raised on a farm near LaPorte City, IA, Lauren Christian would become known throughout the world for his work in swine genetics, pork quality and a legion of students left to continue his work.
Christian spent most of his 31-year academic career at Iowa State University. He was the first to characterize the porcine stress syndrome (PSS), identify its cause, and develop techniques for identifying afflicted and carrier pigs. Christian developed the halothane-screening test, universally recognized as the most accurate PSS screening test for over 20 years.
His foresight in developing a line of stress-gene carriers made it possible for researchers around the world to study the disease. This research had major impacts on reducing producer losses, improving pork quality, and led to the use of PSS pigs as animal models for human disorders.
Christian's research focused on increasing the rate of genetic improvement and his studies of feed conversion, growth, development and carcass evaluation led to major revisions in methods for evaluating market hog performance and developing performance testing indexes.
Christian received numerous Iowa State and national teaching awards, plus outstanding service awards from the National Pork Producers Council, National Swine Improvement Federation, National Hog Farmer and the Rockefeller Prentice Award in Animal Breeding and Genetics.
Perhaps his greatest contribution remains in the professional careers and personal lives of over 5,000 students, while teaching 10 different courses and serving as academic advisor to over 400 undergraduates. Christian also served as major professor to 16 Ph.D. and 46 M.S. degree students. Many called him teacher, mentor and friend.
Lanoy Hazel, Ames, IA
Described as “a brilliant man with intuitive insight into very complex problems,” Lanoy Hazel is said to have “investigated problems with great vigor and often developed theoretical insights while seeking practical solutions.”
These descriptions aptly describe his Ph.D. thesis, which sought to provide the necessary theory to solve the practical problem of selecting breeding animals for several traits at one time. He defined the parameters necessary for developing a selection index and introduced the concept of genetic correlations and how to estimate them.
Just six years after receiving his Ph.D. from Iowa State University, at age 36, Hazel was invited back to the university as professor of animal breeding.
One student in particular, C.H. Henderson, applied Hazel's guidance in his thesis and initiated a new set of theories known as best linear unbiased prediction (BLUP). BLUP has become the standard for using selection indexes for ranking breeding animals throughout the world. Hazel also pioneered development of on-farm performance recording in swine, the testing program eventually initiated by breed associations.
In contrast to the statistically complex indexing procedures, Hazel developed the ingenious and simple use of a thin metal ruler to measure backfat depth. A collaborative experiment with E.A. Kline showed the accuracy of measuring backfat on live animals was actually better than measuring fat depth on a carcass.
Recognized for his ability as a statistician, Hazel had a greater enthusiasm for the biological aspects of breeding. His contributions are well summarized in his Iowa State biography: “Many direct students and other students of his research have been instrumental in the implementation across species of performance testing, genetic evaluation, and selection indexes both in traditional purebred segments and in corporate breeding organizations of the United States and around the world.”
Also nominated: Harold Hodson; Chuck Henderson; Rodger Johnson; Max Rothschild; Allan Schinkel; Keith Olson; Dewey Harris.
Roger Gerrits, Adelphi, MD
Roger Gerrits served the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in research and administrative positions from 1963 until his retirement in 1998.
Gerrits' leadership advanced research efforts in physiology, genetics and reproduction, including estrous synchronization, frozen semen and embryos in swine, the first effective method of sex pre-selection of livestock and humans, the first transgenic swine and the first genetic linkage maps for cattle, sheep, swine and poultry.
In 1992, Gerrits served as leader and coordinator for the establishment of the National Animal Germplasm Program.
He also provided guidance for the national swine identification program, the control and eradication programs for trichinosis, toxoplasmosis and pseudorabies, and to the safety of antimicrobials, hormones and sulfas.
Gerrits assisted in forming the National Swine Improvement Federation and the National Pork Producers Council with the development of the Pork Industry Handbook.
In 40 years, he authored or co-authored over 100 scientific and technical publications on animal agriculture.
Gerrits was presented the 2001 Fellow Award by the American Society of Animal Science, given to members who have provided distinguished service to the animal industry for 25 years or more.
Frank Mulhern, DVM, Washington, DC
Frank Mulhern served for more than 40 years in government and industry as a leader in animal disease eradication.
His career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began in 1947 as a young veterinarian assigned to the Mexico-U.S. Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) Eradication Program in Mexico. At its close in 1952, over 60 million animals had been vaccinated.
Just back from Mexico, he went to work on FMD eradication in Canada.
In the '60s, he played a key role in the hog cholera and brucellosis eradication efforts.
Mulhern held top positions in USDA's Agricultural Research Service and in 1972 was named administrator of the newly created Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. In that post, he battled against Newcastle disease.
In 1980, he retired from USDA to work on the successful program to eradicate African swine fever from the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
In later years, Mulhern also served the National Pork Producers Council as a consultant on animal disease matters.
USDA honored him with the agency's Superior Service Award and the Distinguished Service Award. His efforts in implementing the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act earned him the Albert Switzer Medal Award.
Also nominated: Don Van Houweling; James Leafstedt.
Elwyn Miller, East Lansing, MI
Elwyn Miller of Michigan State University (MSU) had a national and international reputation as a top researcher in swine nutrition. Much of what is known about the vitamin and trace mineral needs of the baby pig was the direct result of research completed by Miller and his colleagues.
Miller is known as one of the pioneers in the use of iron dextran injections; he and colleagues directed more work into baby pig anemia than any other group in the United States.
Miller and his group also determined baby pig requirements for riboflavin, thiamin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc and selenium.
Bone strength measures developed by Miller's group became the accepted standard procedure for calcium and phosphorus studies. His vitamin E studies documented the need for supplementation in the swine diet.
In later years, Miller's research demonstrated an 80% availability of lysine in the flash-dried process.
He received the Morrison Award from the American Society of Animal Science in 1984, was named a Fellow of the society, and received the designation of distinguished professor from MSU in 1987.
Virgil Hays, Lexington, KY
Virgil Hays, Scovell Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the College of Agriculture at the University of Kentucky (UK), was considered one of the premier international authorities in swine nutrition.
His classic studies on the enzyme development and utilization of nutrients by baby pigs in the '50s and '60s laid the foundation for the development of early weaning pig diets.
His research on amino acids and minerals formed the basis for proper formulation of corn-soybean meal diets for pigs.
Hays' pioneering work on the efficacy of copper sulfate and antibiotics as growth promotants, and later work on factors impacting antibiotic resistance in swine, are recognized worldwide.
His research on antibiotics led to his advocacy for developing rational policies for the proper use of antibiotics in swine, based on scientific fact.
Those efforts in the early '80s led to action by Congress that prevented the Food and Drug Administration from acting on its proposal to ban the use of penicillin and tetracyclines in animal feeds. He participated in many Congressional hearings on the subject.
Hays served for 15 years as the chairman of the Department of Animal Sciences at UK.
Jim Nelssen, Manhattan, KS
Jim Nelssen, professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Kansas State University (KSU), has assembled one of the most progressive swine extension programs in the country, focused on delivering the latest technology to pork producers.
Success has been evident with producers of all sizes saving thousands of dollars annually by lowering feed costs per pound of pork produced.
Under Nelssen's guidance, the KSU extension team has developed an intensive on-farm research program to help producers solve production problems and evaluate new technologies.
Many programs have been multi-state or regional. For example, KSU conducted all of the extension programs for Colorado from 1991 to 1999.
Nelssen is currently developing the framework to establish a Center of Excellence in Swine Nutrition, positioning KSU's swine extension program as a national resource for applied swine nutrition information.
Nelssen's vision has extended to encouraging producer networks as a means of keeping smaller producers in the swine industry. As a result, Kansas now has four, 1,500-sow cooperatives.
Mike Tokach, Manhattan, KS
In 15 years of service as a researcher and swine extension specialist at Kansas State University (KSU), Mike Tokach has accumulated a noteworthy collection of accomplishments.
With a 50% research, 50% extension appointment, Tokach and his research team have:
Demonstrated that pigs housed in commercial facilities consume about 30% less feed than pigs in research facilities, which has advanced the understanding of energy density of the diet.
In collaboration with Purdue University's Allen Schinkel, developed the process of using serial ultrasound to model nutrient requirements of grow-finish pigs based on actual protein and lipid accretion. This finding has been used to more closely target amino acid requirements and reduce nitrogen and phosphorus excretion in swine manure.
Tokach has also excelled in developing production-system-specific nutrient requirements and feed budgeting.
Nutritionists across the United States, Canada, Mexico and Asia formulate swine diets based on research Tokach has led. Key areas include diets for early weaned pigs, matching nutrient fortification with lean tissue deposition in finishing pigs and nutrient requirements of high-producing sows.
Also nominated: Frank B. Morrison; Carl Akey; Damon Catron; Vaughn Speer; Jake Hofer; Robert Grummer; Les Hanson; Ernie Peo; Gary Cromwell; John Swisher.
Carroll Plager, Austin, MN
As a hog buyer for Geo. A. Hormel & Company at Austin, MN, Carroll Plager was a pioneer in the pork packing business. He helped launch grade and yield hog marketing programs and the National Barrow Show (NBS). He was the first NBS superintendent, and his service spanned 25 years.
The Lean Meat Certification Program helped producers with better hogs sell them on a grade and yield basis and reap the rewards.
He influenced Hormel to become the first pork packing company to implement the implied consent pork checkoff plan in 1968, to support the research and promotional efforts of the fledgling National Pork Producers Council.
He edited the Hormel Farmer for 25 years, instilling pride in pork producers and profit in the entire pork industry.
Plager was the first recipient of the National Hog Farmer Award for Outstanding Service to the Swine Industry. In 1984, he was honored as a charter member of the Pork Industry Hall of Fame.
Bernard Ebbing, Waterloo, IA
Bernard Ebbing was a 28-year employee of Rath Packing Company, Waterloo, IA, serving for many years as livestock services director.
In that capacity, he worked closely with the Extension Service to improve pork quality. His efforts led to development of swine testing stations at Iowa State University and New Hampton, IA. He was also a leader in the utilization of cross-sectional views of pork carcasses to evaluate quality.
Ebbing was a noted swine judge across the country, having participated in the national conferences of all eight major swine breeds and every major barrow show in the United States.
For 25 years, he served as chairman of the International Collegiate Livestock Judging Contest. He also served as chairman of the Livestock Conservation Institute from 1971 to 1974.
Honors include the National Hog Farmer Award for Outstanding Service and induction into the Pork Industry Hall of Fame in 1987.
Joseph W. Luter III, Smithfield, VA
Joseph W. Luter III is chairman and CEO of Smithfield Foods, Inc., the world's largest hog producer and pork processor.
Under Luter's leadership, in the last quarter century, Smithfield has vertically integrated production and processing in the United States and internationally, achieving annual receipts in excess of $9 billion. At the heart of Luter's strategy is Smithfield's proprietary National Pig Development (NPD) genetics, used to produce its Lean Generation fresh pork products.
Luter has stressed environmental stewardship. In 2000, Smithfield voluntarily entered into a landmark agreement with the North Carolina attorney general, providing $15 million to fund research into environmentally superior technologies to treat swine waste. North Carolina State University's Animal and Poultry Waste Management Center is conducting the work.
Smithfield's U.S. hog farms developed the world's first comprehensive environmental management system for hog operations, capturing the prestigious ISO 14001 certification from the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization.
Smithfield, its livestock production subsidiary Murphy-Brown, and the state of North Carolina teamed up in 2004 to develop an environmental management system available free to U.S. producers.
Also nominated: L.B. Outlaw; George Hormel; Cliff Carnes; Burroughs Lundy; Gene Leman; Merle LeSage; Gary Mahan.
Robert G. Kauffman, Princeton, MO
Robert Kauffman was an accomplished instructor during his 30-year academic career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, training and motivating students as well as business leaders.
He developed the “Meat Animal Evaluation Approach” to evaluating livestock, providing a competitive program for animal science students. He coordinated student meat animal evaluation competitions for about 10,000 students during his career.
His “Academic Quadrathlon,” a four-part competition testing the knowledge of livestock, dairy and poultry teams, gained popularity across the country.
His “Livestock and Meat Marketing” course, one of his outstanding teaching accomplishments, prepared students to work in the meat industry. Students traveled and worked in small teams to address major industry problems.
Kauffman developed three meat science bulletins used around the world, most notably, “Guidelines to Evaluate Market Hog Performance and Meat Quality.”
Kauffmann conducted extensive research on meat animal composition and quality.
During sabbatical studies in The Netherlands, he discovered a fourth definable lean quality type in pork — red, soft and exudative (RSE) lean.
He was the leader of a research team at the university that patented the use of sodium bicarbonate to improve pork color, tenderness and water-holding capacity.
Kauffman was inducted into the Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame.
He retired in 1995, is professor emeritus, and currently manages the family farm in Princeton, MO.
Also nominated: Dave Topel; Ed Kline; Robert Rust; Robert Bray.
Tom Stein, DVM, Eagan, MN
When it comes to swine production recordkeeping, Tom Stein's name quickly comes to mind.
For his Ph.D. project at the University of Minnesota, Stein designed and helped develop the PigChamp recordkeeping system used around the world.
In 1990, he founded Knowledgeworks, Inc., a management consulting and software development firm aimed at helping large-scale producers with financial and business planning.
In 1995, Stein introduced the first audiotape journal for the pork industry. “Inside the Swine Industry” is a monthly, 90-minute report of key research, analysis and production information for professional pork producers.
In 1998, Stein launched PorkNet.com, a business Web site, along with “PorkNet's Daily Update,” providing over 3,000 e-mail subscribers with news and production information.
Knowledgeworks was acquired by MetaFarms in 1999, and Stein serves as chief executive officer and a director of the company.
Billy N. Day, Columbus, MO
As a scientist in reproductive biology, Billy Day is the rare individual who has contributed to his profession as a researcher, a teacher and in applicable service to the swine industry in the United States and internationally.
Day investigated the basic mechanisms controlling the reproductive process in farm animals, then used this knowledge to develop management techniques to increase reproductive efficiency, particularly in swine.
His long-time interest has been to understand the interactions between the female reproductive cycle, embryonic development and establishing pregnancy. He has investigated the mechanisms controlling reproductive cycles and used that knowledge to synchronize estrus and control ovulation.
Day was one of the first to show that prostaglandin F2-alpha effectively induces parturition, thus allowing producers to synchronize and supervise farrowings.
He has successfully experimented with using sexed semen to fertilize eggs, in vitro, and produced at least eight litters of all gilts.
Day and colleagues at the University of Missouri provided some of the first artificial insemination training to producers in 1974.
His self-professed goal is “to leave something that producers can actually use.”
In addition, Day's impressive record of advising and training future scientists in reproductive biology includes 16 postdoctoral trainees, 23 Ph.D. candidates and 28 M.S. students.
Also nominated: Vern Pursel; Lawrence Johnson; Neal First; Bo Crabo; H.L. Self.
Wilbur Plager, West Lafayette, IN
The adjectives used to describe the man and his style are many and varied, but they include arbiter, agitator, motivator, breed secretary and, most assuredly, industry leader.
Raised on a farm near Grundy Center, IA, Plager began leaving his mark on the pork industry as field secretary of the Iowa Swine Producers Association. He was a strong supporter of the Iowa Swine Testing Station, the Meat Hog Certification program, and the Iowa Master Pork Producers program.
Plager served as the first president of the National Swine Growers Council, the forerunner of the National Pork Producers Council.
He was instrumental in launching National Hog Farmer magazine, the first publication devoted solely to the pork industry.
He served 15 years as executive secretary of the American Yorkshire Club and was widely sought out to judge hog shows, having tackled that task in 36 states and three foreign countries.
Plager received the National Hog Farmer's Outstanding Service Award in 1963 and was inducted into the Pork Industry Hall of Fame in 1984.
Willard & Max Waldo, DeWitt, NE
The Waldo name is synonymous with Duroc hogs in the United States, having established their herd in 1895.
After graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1934, Willard took jobs in the packing business, teaching and county extension work. In 1937, he selected the best boar and seven top gilts from his father's herd to begin his own.
A strong believer in the principles of agricultural science, Willard was one of the first to weigh pigs at birth, at weaning and at marketing time, and use the information to guide his selection program.
In 1941, he and his wife, Beuhla, bought her home farm near DeWitt, the present-day headquarters of Waldo Durocs.
In 1948, Waldo Durocs topped a University of Nebraska test comparing all breeds and crossbreds.
In 1956, Waldo Farms was the first U.S. herd to have an extension agent use a backfat probe to measure backfat of the entire herd. The results were used in a selection program aimed at reducing fat levels in the herd.
The first caesarian-derived Waldo nucleus herd was established in 1959. This marked the end of public breeding stock sales in lieu of private sales to protect the herd and avoid disease spread.
In 1960, son Max graduated from the University of Nebraska and became a full partner in the enterprise. He guided the development of the SPF herd and established an extensive, whole-herd performance testing and selection program.
Since 1970, Waldo Farms has been the world's oldest and largest performance-tested, registered Duroc herd. Willard Waldo received the National Hog Farmer Outstanding Service Award in 1975.
Landrace and Yorkshire stock were added in 1976.
Computer-based estimated breeding values (EBVs) have been calculated since 1983 to accelerate genetic improvement. Best linear unbiased prediction (BLUP) EBVs selection index was implemented in 1992, instrumental in Waldo Farms' leading the “rate of genetic improvement” ranking by the National Swine Registry in 2000.
Kenneth W. Woolley, Franklin, KY
Ken Woolley left an indelible imprint on the seedstock industry in the United States. Together with five farming partners he founded Pig Improvement Company (PIC) in England in 1962. PIC launched its U.S. operations in Spring Green, WI, in 1973.
Under Woolley's leadership, straight lines of distribution and minimal disease concepts were developed in the 1970s. With the help of other industry leaders, Woolley guided PIC to develop the first vet-to-vet communication in the shipment of breeding stock.
The concept of Isowean (also known as segregated early weaning or medicated early weaning) was commercialized by Woolley with the assistance of industry partners as a way to break the disease cycle from sow to offspring.
In short, Woolley's genius was his ability to take disease principles like Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) and genetic principles and adapt them to commercial use.
Roy Poage, DeKalb, IL
This native of Plainview, TX, was active in the swine breeding stock business his entire career.
Poage and his father-in-law, T. Euel Liner, formed a partnership in 1959 to produce breeding stock. Two years later, they founded Lubbock Swine Breeders, one of the first Specific-Pathogen-Free (SPF) herds in the United States.
The company was a pioneer in swine genetics and management practices, including all-in, all-out production and the use of slotted floors.
Additionally, Poage developed the basic design of a breeding-gestation barn in 1964, which gained wide acceptance throughout the industry.
When Lubbock Swine Breeders merged with DeKalb Swine Breeders in 1972, Poage became general manager. He was named president of the group in 1980.
Poage is past president of the Texas Pork Producers Association and the Texas SPF Association, and past chairman of the Livestock Conservation Institute's emergency disease committee.
Hilman Schroeder, Sauk City, WI
A life-long career began in the pork industry at the age of 13 when Hilman Schroeder purchased a Yorkshire bred sow.
The herd grew to 170 Large White and Landrace sows in the '80s, with primary emphasis placed on improving sow productivity.
Schroeder's accomplishments over the years cover a broad range, from topping the National Barrow Show carcass contest at age 18, to service as a board member of the National Pork Producers Council, director of the American Yorkshire Club, and as the first vice president of the National Pork Board and later as president.
He was one of the founders of the Wisconsin Pork Producers Association and worked tirelessly to organize county groups in the state. He was also actively involved in pseudorabies control issues.
Schroeder was recognized with the National Hog Farmer Outstanding Service award in 1981, and received the University of Wisconsin's Award of Distinction.
Jim Nance, Alamo, TN
Jim Nance was the producer's politician. He served three terms as president of the National Swine Growers Council, the predecessor of the National Pork Producers Council.
While president of the National Live Stock and Meat Board, he led the fight to permit a voluntary pork checkoff with markets automatically deducting the funds.
Nance devoted long hours traversing the country and traveling to Washington, DC, selling the idea of a national pork checkoff program.
Nance served as president of the Hampshire Swine Registry, was appointed to President John Kennedy's National Agricultural Advisory Committee and served on the National Live Stock & Meat Board from 1958 to 1974.
He received National Hog Farmer's Outstanding Service Award in 1984 and the National Pork Producers Council's Hall of Fame Award in 1985.
Also nominated: Darrell Anderson; T. Euel Liner; Rollie Pemberton; John Soorholtz; Fred Haley; Fran Callahan; Earl L . Lasley; Bob & Connie Greene; Harold Boucher; William G. Nash; Bill Funderburg; Glenn Conatser; C.W. Mitchell; Everrett Forkner; Jack Rodibaugh; Eduardo Avalos.
Roy Schultz, DVM, Avoca, IA
Roy Schultz is truly a Renaissance man in swine veterinary and pork industry circles.
Schultz was in a mostly swine practice with partner Robert Wunder, DVM, from 1960 to 1979, when he took a producer's problem back to Iowa State University (ISU) from which he graduated in 1960. The problem was Haemophilus pleuropneumonia, now known as Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia. He worked out the cause of the disease, developed serological tests and ways of detection, treatment and early means of prevention. He later developed a federally licensed vaccine.
Schultz returned to Avoca, IA, in 1981, setting up a swine practice while completing his master's degree in microbiology and preventive medicine at ISU.
Schultz worked internationally for the U.S. Feed Grains Council and privately for the Polish swine industry.
From 1972 to 1986, Schultz and a partner owned and operated a 750-sow, farrow-to-finish operation.
Schultz worked with early innovators and integrators in the swine industry. He owned and operated two private research facilities, conducting research on many facets of swine health and production.
Schultz presented over 100 papers and wrote swine health articles in many popular farming and hog publications.
He was president of the American Association of Swine Practitioners in 1984, Swine Practitioner of the Year in 1986 and was named life member of the group in 2003. He serves on the executive board of the U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA) and has been a veterinary representative to the USAHA for over 15 years.
Allen Leman, DVM, Webster City, IA
Despite Al Leman's untimely death at age 48 in 1992, he lived a full life.
Born and raised on a farm near Eureka, IL, he quickly completed undergraduate, veterinary medicine and Ph.D. programs at the University of Illinois, then accepted a faculty position at the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine.
While at Minnesota, he helped create the Swine Center, edited the widely used textbook, “Diseases of Swine,” and developed the international newsletter PigLetter.
In 1986, Leman left Minnesota to become a partner in Swine Graphics, a pork-producing enterprise at Webster City, IA.
He helped found the Minnesota Swine Herd Health Programming Conference in 1974 and after his death, the conference was renamed in his honor.
The University of Minnesota also established the Leman Chair, funded by the university, friends, farmers, veterinarians, agribusiness and colleagues.
One of Leman's lasting legacies is the fact that when he arrived at the University of Minnesota in 1974, he was the only faculty member in swine medicine. When he left 11 years later, there was a six-member swine medicine group, now considered one of the premier programs in the world.
Richard Ross, DVM, Ames, IA
Richard Ross maintained an active research program in swine respiratory disease during his long administrative career at Iowa State University (ISU).
He has published over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts on Pasteurella multocida, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia, Actinobacillus suis and systemic and respiratory mycoplasmal diseases of swine.
Ross' work was instrumental in the development of the first atrophic rhinitis vaccines, the first mycoplasma vaccines and the first vaccines for Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia.
He was also the author of the chapter on mycoplasma diseases in the “Diseases of Swine” textbook that serves as the international resource for swine health and production.
Ross was responsible for securing funding for the construction of a new livestock infectious disease isolation facility at ISU.
After several years working at ISU's Veterinary Medical Research Institute (VMRI), he served as professor-in-charge from 1985 to 1990, associate director from 1990 to 1992, and held several positions in the College of Veterinary Medicine, including dean from 2000 to 2002.
He has served as distinguished professor in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine from 2002 to 2005.
Paul B. Doby, DVM, Springfield, IL
Paul Doby's name is practically synonymous with national animal disease programs.
When he joined the Illinois Department of Agriculture in 1962, he was thrust into the middle of the hog cholera fight, developing a statewide eradication program and spearheading the essential effort to end garbage feeding to hogs.
His strong efforts made Illinois the first state to eliminate trichinosis and one of the first to eliminate swine brucellosis.
Under Doby's leadership, Illinois became the first state to develop both voluntary and mandatory cleanup programs for pseudorabies.
Doby was born into a poor farming family in Arkansas and rose to the position of superintendent, Division of Livestock Industry, Illinois Department of Agriculture, a position he held for nearly 30 years.
Doby received the National Hog Farmer Service Award in 1990, and in 1992 received the Career Achievement Award from the University of Illinois and a Special Achievement Award from Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar.
D.L. “Hank” Harris, DVM, Ames, IA
Hank Harris of Iowa State University (ISU) has applied his knowledge in swine diseases as a faculty member, hog farmer and vice president in charge of the health assurance program for PIC.
Harris began his research and teaching career at ISU in 1970 and by mid-1971 co-discovered the cause of swine dysentery and named a new disease agent, Brachyspira hyodysenteriae. He rose to associate professor in 1973 and became full professor in 1977.
From 1982 to 1987, Harris was CEO of NOBL Laboratories in Sioux Center, IA, and operated a farming enterprise near Rothville, MO. Vaccines for atrophic rhinitis and ileitis were developed and sold by NOBL due to Harris' work.
In 1987, Harris joined PIC, developing the concept of isolated weaning for the elimination of swine infectious agents. He returned to ISU in 1992 as professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Preventive Medicine.
Harris recognized the value of pre-harvest food safety and organized the first short course in 1994 on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) for the reduction of human food-borne pathogens from the pork chain.
William Switzer, DVM, Ames, IA
William Switzer was born and raised in Kansas, schooled in Texas, but spent his professional life in Iowa, where he made his mark as a swine researcher and administrator at Iowa State University (ISU).
He was credited with discovering the first known case of Mycoplasmal pneumonia in swine and for characterizing the polyseositis disease it causes. He also discovered the cause of Mycoplasmal arthritis and developed treatments for Bordetella bronchiseptica in swine.
Switzer served as a faculty member and administrator in the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine from 1948 until retiring as distinguished professor emeritus and associate dean for research in 1990.
His patented vaccines for atrophic rhinitis in pigs and kennel cough in dogs ranked high at ISU for patents generating royalty income. He was inducted into the Iowa Inventor's Hall of Fame in 1979.
The William P. Switzer Award was created to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to society and the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine.
Also nominated: Lewis J. Runnels; James McKean; James E. Allison; Alex Hogg; Charles Salsbury; Ralph Vinson; Harley Moon; Richard Hull; Joe Connor; Scott Dee; Howard Dunne; George Young; C.H. Kernkamp; Jan Schuiteman; Steve Henry.
Stanley Curtis, Urbana, IL
Stanley Curtis is considered a champion for science-based arguments in determining animal well-being. His stance has defined the course of the animal welfare debate and its regulation in the United States.
Curtis, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, has advised about 120 undergraduate and 50 graduate students. Curtis and colleagues have contributed basic information on behavioral, physiologic and immune adaptive mechanisms (especially in pigs) through 115 papers, 145 abstracts, two books and 42 chapters.
Curtis earned three degrees at Purdue University. After graduation, he served on the University of Missouri dairy husbandry faculty from 1968 to 1970. He then joined the University of Illinois, establishing acclaimed research, teaching and outreach programs in livestock ecology, ethology and care.
From 1990 to 1995, he headed the Dairy and Animal Science Department at Pennsylvania State University, returning to the University of Illinois in 1998 as professor with the Animal Sciences Department.
He was named Fellow of the American Society of Animal Science in 2003 and Distinguished Service Award recipient of the National Pork Producers Council in 2001.
Also nominated: Temple Grandin; David Meisinger.
Hobart W. Jones, West Lafayette, IN
Hobart “Hobe” Jones served ably as a swine professor at Purdue University for 38 years.
He started his career in 1950, assigned to teaching swine production courses. In all, he instructed about 5,000 students from several areas in the School of Agriculture.
Jones was an innovative leader in finding ways to reduce labor while increasing productivity as producers moved from outdoors to confinement production.
Jones was a strong supporter of 4-H and FFA projects and held many demonstrations and “mini-schools” for youth.
For more than two decades, he judged numerous swine shows at the county, state and national level. Jones also judged at many Midwest state fairs and at the National Barrow Show.
His greatest achievement may have been his strong influence on college students in encouraging them to contribute to and improve the pork industry.
Al Christian, Ames, IA
Forty-four years ago, a young man from LaPorte City, IA, began a career at Iowa State University. Hired as herdsman of the university's swine teaching farm in 1959, Al Christian has been touching the lives of students and pork enthusiasts from around the world ever since.
The teaching farm is a vital part of the ISU animal science curriculum, providing animals for classes and educational events for 4-H, FFA, Extension, producer groups and foreign visitors.
Christian manages the daily activities of the farm, including genetic selection, nutrition, reproduction and performance testing. Many a student has sharpened his/her management and life skills by working side-by-side with Christian as a student or part-time worker.
Christian has judged national shows for all eight breeds, every major junior show in the United States, and internationally in Australia, Canada, Mexico and Japan.
He has exhibited countless champion barrows, truckloads and breeding animals, while serving as an officer and/or member on numerous breed association boards.
Perhaps one former student summarized his contributions best: “Al taught his students how to raise pigs, but perhaps even more important, he taught them about life — always emphasizing the vital role hog farming and agriculture play in the social fabric of rural America.”
Also nominated: Mark Pickel; Howard Miller; Dan Murphy; Bud Harmon; Dave Huinker; Dick Juhl; Jim Hillier; Ernie Barnes; Leon Olson; Harley Peters; Jesse Bell; Al Jensen; Fred Weidhuner; C.R. Mitchell; Neal Black; Bill Fleming; Dale Miller; Joe Vansickle; Marlys Miller; Al Opedahl.
Neal joined National Hog Farmer in 1957 as managing editor, coming from the Waterloo (IA) Courier, where he was reporter and farm editor. He succeeded C.R. Mitchell as editor in 1973.
Neal edited National Hog Farmer through hog cholera eradication, serving as chairman of the Livestock Conservation Institute (LCI) cholera committee, and during the great nitrate debate, when USDA Assistant Secretary Carol Foreman tried to eliminate nitrates in pork curing. Neal led the successful opposition.
Neal resigned from National Hog Farmer in 1980 to become president of LCI, where he led the pseudorabies (PRV) eradication effort. He was one of the founders of the newsletter Pigletter, which he edited for 14 years. He left LCI in early 1987, but he continued as a consultant on PRV eradication efforts until his resignation as secretary of the National Pseudorabies Control Board in 1997.
Now retired and living in St. Paul, Neal has been honored with awards by every industry association.
Bill served as third editor of National Hog Farmer from 1980 to 1993, followed by a year as editorial director of National Hog Farmer and BEEF magazines.
In retirement, Bill did freelance photography for a few years, including handling the photography and writing for the Environmental Stewards program, co-sponsored by National Hog Farmer and Pork Checkoff. Later, Bill did photography for Hennepin County Community Health Service (Minneapolis and suburbs). In recent years, Bill says he's laid his cameras down and has become “a full-time, retired old guy!”
Bill and Joan Fleming live in Eagan, MN.
Dale is in his 32nd year with National Hog Farmer, having joined the editorial staff fresh out of the University of Minnesota with a bachelor of science degree in animal science. In those three-plus decades, he served as associate editor (1973-1977), then managing editor (1977-1993), and editor from 1993 to present.
Dale has traveled throughout the U.S. and to numerous foreign countries, studying and reporting on pork production.
Dale is actively involved in a business partnership, raising Chester White and Yorkshire breeding stock, F1 gilts and premium quality locker pork. Dale is single and lives on a 27-acre farm near Hampton, MN.
“National Hog Farmer has given me a life rich with many good friends, travels and experiences I could never have imagined. I've spent many, many hours ‘talking hogs’ with the best, most sincere and generous people in the world — pork producers,” he says.
Joe is currently in his 28th year on staff as senior editor. He joined National Hog Farmer in 1977, following 3½ years of reporting for the Albert Lea (MN) Tribune and as farm editor for the Fairmont (MN) Sentinel newspapers.
Joe has covered all facets of the hog industry, but animal health and regulatory issues are his main focus.
During the mid-1980s, he worked half time for both National Hog Farmer and BEEF, a sister publication. “I always found it fascinating, rotating from the glitz and glamour that seems to characterize the cattle industry to the down-home charm and warmth of the pork industry,” says Joe.
“One of the special benefits of this job has been the close working relationship I've been able to forge, and the many friends I've made, associating with the swine veterinary community.”
Joe and wife, Dawn, have four grown children and reside in Burnsville, MN.
Debra (Switzky) Neutkens
“Working for National Hog Farmer was my dream job — exactly what I wanted to do after graduating from the University of Wisconsin,” says Deb. “The pork industry was dynamic, the magazine was helping lead its progress, and I had an extreme fondness for pigs.”
As her favorite memories, Deb lists attending the American Pork Congress and on-farm visits for feature stories. “You could hardly walk the aisles at APC, it was so crowded. The late '70s and early '80s was a booming era for the industry, before integration and mergers cut farm numbers. Interviewing producers for articles always charged my batteries, and I never tired of the travel.
“I still hold producers and pigs dear, working as a freelance writer off and on for the last 16 years — mostly writing for National Hog Farmer and MetaFarms.
“What is it that keeps me and the other long-time editors dedicated to this industry? That's easy — the people,” she adds.
Deb and her husband, Paul, have two children. They live in White Bear Lake, MN.
Following stints at Hormel Foods and (the former) Livestock Conservation Institute working with Neal Black, Cynthia enjoyed eight rewarding years at National Hog Farmer.
“I counted my primary beats as production, nutrition and facilities, but had the opportunity to dig into nearly every aspect of the pork industry,” she says. “Every day brought new challenges and new knowledge.”
Since 1993, Cynthia has been at Colle+McVoy, a marketing communications firm in Minneapolis, where she works with leading agribusiness and other clients.
“My time at National Hog Farmer was a special chapter in my life because of the tremendous people who make up the pork industry. I will always be grateful for the folks who welcomed me into their offices, their pickup cabs and their kitchens to share pieces of their daily lives with me. They were always working to find a better way, a smarter solution, and they truly cared about the industry and each other. I learned something from each of them about commitment and passion for ideas; I hope I was able to convey some of that drive for excellence to National Hog Farmer readers.”
She and her husband, Chuck, have a son and a daughter and live on a farm near Hampton, MN.
Bill's career with National Hog Farmer began as a columnist, writing the popular “Diary of a Pork Producer” while farming full-time. He joined the editorial ranks as associate editor in 1979, “recognizing that writing was more lucrative than $30 hogs.”
Later, he joined the editorial staffs of BEEF and Dairy magazines, both sister publications to National Hog Farmer. He spent over a decade working in public relations and advertising, focusing on animal health. “More recently, and never having outgrown the urge to play in the dirt, I've given up travel to run a small excavation and construction business in western Wisconsin,” he says.
He recently joined a friend in purchasing a 500-sow unit in western Wisconsin.
“The years as a columnist and associate editor with National Hog Farmer were some of the most enjoyable of my life,” says Bill. “I had the opportunity to meet, write about and work with some wonderful people — all committed to improving the pork industry. I consider it an honor to have been part of the first 50 years.”
Karen wrote about the pork industry for two decades, ending with a five-year stint as managing editor of National Hog Farmer. She is currently editor of Farm Industry News, a sister publication.
Karen was raised on a diversified farm that included hogs in northwest Iowa. She received her journalism degree from South Dakota State University, then started writing about agriculture.
Karen and her husband, Randy, live in Lakeville, MN, with a daughter and a son.
Lora Duxbury Berg
Lora was a member of the National Hog Farmer staff from 1993 to 1999, joining the staff as associate editor, then promoted to managing editor. “My parents met in the open class swine barn at the South Dakota State Fair, so being on the National Hog Farmer staff was probably part of my destiny,” she says.
Lora was raised on a purebred livestock and grain farm and grew up showing Berkshire hogs. She represented her home state as the 1986 South Dakota Pork Industry Queen before serving as the South Dakota Pork Producers Council's first communications director intern and working for the National Live Stock and Meat Board.
Lora now operates a freelance agricultural communications business and continues to write for National Hog Farmer.
“I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a member of the National Hog Farmer family,” she relates. “I consider myself very lucky to have been able to meet so many wonderful pork industry people while traveling the country covering stories on behalf of our pork producer readers.”
She and her husband, Dan, and sons Ethan and Evan live in Lakeville, MN.
C.R. Mitchell (first editor, deceased)
C.R. Mitchell, or as most people called him, “Mitch,” National Hog Farmer's first editor, served for 17 years, created a series of articles in the mid-'60s entitled “Blueprint for Decision,” which led to formation of a national pork industry organization and the start of the checkoff program, known as “nickels for profit.” Mitch was a strong advocate of developing the modern, meat-type hog, creating a product more acceptable to consumers and worth promoting.
He was honored, posthumously, with the National Pork Producers Council Distinguished Service award for excellence and dedication to the pork industry in 1985.
Pork Industry Organizations
These six men led the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) as executive vice president and/or chief operating officer from its formative years through the USDA-mandated separation of NPPC and National Pork Board activities.
Rolland “Pig” Paul, Mesa, AZ
Rolland “Pig” Paul's career in the pork industry has run the gamut.
The Iowa native and graduate of Iowa State University served as field secretary for the Iowa Pork Producers Association during the late '50s and '60s. In that position, he helped lay the foundation for the pork checkoff program, twice failing at attempts to impose a mandatory program before legislation passed in 1963 made possible the “implied consent” concept and the voluntary nickel-a-head checkoff program.
Within two years, 28% of pork production was being checked off to raise funds for pork promotion and research. Paul helped organize 24 state pork producer organizations.
In 1966, Paul became the first executive secretary of the National Pork Producers Council and helped open the first headquarters in Des Moines, IA.
Since the late '60s, Paul and his family ran Pork Plantation near Willow Springs, MO. He served as a board member of the Duroc and Yorkshire breed associations.
In 1994, he sold the hogs and became a county commissioner in Howell County, MO.
For the last several years, Paul and his wife, Donna, have lived in Mesa, AZ.
J. Marvin Garner, Hiawatha, IA
J. Marvin Garner was a third-generation seedstock producer from Mendon, MO.
After graduating with an animal science degree from the University of Missouri, he worked as a hog buyer for Wilson Packing Company in Chicago.
In 1951, Garner became director of the newly formed St. Joseph Market Foundation on the St. Joseph Livestock Market.
In 1958, he became the executive secretary of the Chester White Swine Record Association in Rochester, IN. He served as president of the National Association of Swine Records and was one of the founders of the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
Garner became executive vice president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in 1969. During his 10 years of service, he supervised NPPC's first consumer advertising study, organized and managed the first nine American Pork Congress events, kicked off October Pork Month observances, and played a central role in financing and building NPPC's Des Moines headquarters.
Garner received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Pork Producers Council in 1989.
Orville K. Sweet, Kimberling City, MO
Orville Sweet served as the third CEO of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), following a stint as the CEO of the American Polled Hereford Association.
Earlier in his varied career, Sweet was an FFA teacher at Snyder, OK, manager of Windsweep Farms of Georgia and an extension specialist in Georgia.
In Sweet's 10-year tenure at NPPC, 1979-1989, he achieved the following:
Led the building of a new NPPC headquarters facility in West Des Moines, IA;
Spearheaded the creation of the hugely successful “Pork. The Other White Meat” campaign;
Worked on passage of the Pork Checkoff referendum in 1988; and
Opened an NPPC office in Washington, DC, to streamline lobbying efforts.
During Sweet's term, revenues for promotional efforts increased from $5 million to $20 million, the pork checkoff referendum passed with 70% voting in favor and World Pork Expo was launched.
Sweet was a visiting industry professor at Iowa State University in 1989-90. During the 1990s, he served as president of Sweet and Associates, a consulting firm providing strategic planning for groups. He received the NPPC's Distinguished Service Award in 1991.
Russ Sanders, Johnston, IA
Russ Sanders, a graduate of Iowa State University, embarked on his professional career as executive director of the Iowa Pork Producers Association.
At the Iowa Development Commission, he introduced the Iowa Chop Marketing Program.
Sanders came to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) as vice president of marketing in 1980, where he coordinated the development of the “Pork. The Other White Meat” campaign and guided it through the first critical years. He succeeded Orville Sweet as CEO of NPPC, and served in that position from 1989 to 1995.
Under Sanders' leadership, pork became a net exporter for the first time and started a streak of 13 consecutive years of record exports.
The Pork Quality Assurance Program was introduced during his tenure, and he developed producer support for the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Sanders left NPPC to become vice president of marketing at Premium Standard Farms, Princeton, MO.
He currently is director of End-Use Account Management at Pioneer in Johnston, IA.
Larry Graham, Clive, IA
Larry Graham is a native of Albion, IL. Early in his career, he was Illinois editor of Prairie Farmer magazine for four years ending in 1972. Then he worked for three years as executive vice president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association.
From 1975 to 1985, Graham was vice president of Oster Communications, Inc., of Cedar Falls, IA, where he started the Professional Farmers Institute, a continuing education program for farmers.
Graham was responsible for the creation of Pork Profit Edge, a successful weekly newsletter, in 1991.
He also served as executive vice president of Brock Associates, a Milwaukee, WI, agricultural consulting firm.
In 1995, Graham became executive vice president/CEO for the National Pork Producers Council.
He currently operates his own independent swine consulting firm, Graham & Associates, based in Clive, IA.
Al Tank, Washington, DC
Al Tank became vice president/CEO of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) during a period of change and challenge in the pork industry. He was selected in 1998 and served in that position for about five years.
Tank had served as NPPC vice president of Public Policy and Foreign Trade in their Washington, DC, office.
Prior to joining NPPC in 1991, Tank worked as a partner/broker for a commercial hedging and trading firm.
He also worked as a lobbyist in Washington, DC, for the National Corn Growers Association and on the staff of Congressman Jim Leach (D-IA).
Tank was the field director for the Iowa Pork Producers Association in the early 1980s.
During his tenure at NPPC, he exhibited leadership as the industry consolidated into larger production systems and became more technologically advanced.
He helped broker a settlement agreement with USDA that ensured the continuation of the mandatory pork checkoff program and called for a decisive separation of the NPPC and National Pork Board.