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Iowa Pork Producers honor the best of the best

A total of 1,465 Iowa pig farmers have earned the Master Pork Producer Award since the program's inception in 1942.

Source: Iowa Pork Producers Association

Recognizing the best of the best took center stage during the 2017 Iowa Pork Congress, held this past week in Des Moines.

The Iowa Pork Producers Association selected a new class of Master Pork Producers and Master Pork Partners, honored at the 45th annual Iowa Pork Congress Banquet in Des Moines Wednesday night.

IPPA’s 75th class of Master Pork Producers features nine Iowa hog farmers who were selected and recognized by their peers for excellence in pork production. A slide show highlighting each new Master Pork Producer’s operation was shown and the coveted brass belt buckle, emblematic of the award, and a certificate of achievement were presented to each producer.

Master Pork Producers

  • Sean Baragary, Winthrop, Buchanan County
  • Joe and Michelle Burgmeier, Lockridge, Jefferson County
  • Seth and Jennifer Evans, Lenox, Taylor County
  • Cale and Connor Juergensen, Churdan, Greene County
  • Marti and Martha Knoblock, Rock Rapids, Lyon County
  • Russ and Dianne Reth, Manchester, Delaware County
  • Robert and Cheryl Ten Napel, Ireton, Sioux County
  • Joe Thoma, LaPorte City, Black Hawk County
  • Peter and Cheryl Thome, Osage, Mitchell County

The association has now presented 1,465 different Iowa pig farmers with the Master Pork Producer Award since the program’s inception in 1942.

IPPA created the Master Pork Partner Award in 2014 to recognize pork production company employees who don’t have active daily roles at a specific production site, but have demonstrated positive impacts in their production systems and a commitment to the pork industry’s We Care ethical principles.

Master Pork Partners

  • Adriana Hernandez, Ames, Story County
  • Dr. Bryan Myers, Independence, Buchanan County
  • Doug Matthies, Walnut, Pottawattamie County

Nominated by their peers and neighbors, all of the award winners are recognized for their expertise in their segments of the production cycle and understanding of current industry issues, quality assurance, animal identification and well-being, and their production efficiency.

The Iowa pork industry features considerable diversity and specialization and the 2016 class of Master Pork Producers and Pork Partners is representative of the wide variety of systems in operation today. Production diversity helps maintain the strength of the industry and enables Iowa producers to compete successfully in the domestic and international commodity and niche markets.

The Iowa Pork Producers Association and Iowa State University co-sponsor the Master Pork Producer program to demonstrate the character and breadth of Iowa pork production.

Honorary Master Pork Producer

The Iowa Pork Producers Association annually recognizes one or more people who have greatly contributed to the success of the state’s pork industry as an Honorary Master Pork Producer. This year’s honoree is no stranger to the state association.

Retired IPPA CEO Rich Degner was awarded this honorary award Wednesday night. He served as CEO from 1998 until his retirement on Sept. 30, 2015.

The Honorary Master Pork Producer Award is presented for outstanding and distinguished service to the betterment and success of Iowa's pork industry. Recipients are selected by the IPPA Board of Directors and the program is funded by the Pork Checkoff.

Iowa Environmental Steward Award

Ben and Anna Bader of Jesup in Black Hawk County were named the state’s Environmental Steward Award winners, which bring with it a trophy and $2,500 cash award.

The Environmental Steward Award was established in 2007 by the IPPA Environmental Committee to recognize pork producers who go above and beyond in environmental stewardship. The selection committee judges nominees on the producer's manure management, soil and water conservation practices, air quality strategies, wildlife habitat management and environmental management innovations.

The selection committee consists of the IPPA Board of Directors, the IPPA Environmental Committee and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and Pheasants Forever officials.

Pork All Americans

Tim and Erin Brenneman received the Pork All-American award during the Wednesday night award banquet. The Pork All American award is the highest honor an individual Iowa pig farmer can receive from IPPA. A producer must be under the age of 40 and a Master Pork Producer to be eligible.

The IPPA Pork All-American award was established in 1970 to honor young producers who have established themselves as community leaders and successful and dedicated businesspersons.

Master Seedstock Award

Dan Engler, who passed away in January 2016, was posthumously awarded the Master Seedstock Award during Wednesday night’s award banquet.

Dan and his wife, Marcia, started raising market pigs together in Story County more than 40 years ago. They focused more on the show ring side the last 30 years as their children became interested in junior projects such as 4-H and FFA. All of the Engler children showed pigs for several years and several of his grandchildren have carried on the tradition.

The Engler operation focused on having five to eight high-quality purebred females that he bred for several state fairs and National Swine Registry shows. Many of these females trace back to a Hampshire gilt that Dan bought in 2012.

Dan was very passionate about improving the Hampshire breed and making pigs better in every way. He never wanted to raise the most pigs; he wanted to raise the best pigs. This tied into another passion for helping children who wanted to show. It wasn’t uncommon for Dan to travel across the state or keep in touch with people who bought his stock.

The Iowa Purebred Swine Council has sponsored the Master Seedstock Award since 1958 and has selected one Master Seedstock Award recipient each year since then. Its purpose is to recognize significant contributions to the Iowa and national purebred industries and for evidence of genetic improvements within their selected breeds for the benefit of Iowa, the nation and, in many cases, internationally.

Iowa Pork Queen

Clare Conley, a high school senior from Cherokee, was named Iowa Pork Queen by the Iowa Pork Producers Association. She plans to attend Iowa State University in the fall to major in agricultural studies. Clare is the daughter of Bonni Conley of Cherokee.

Joining Conley on the Iowa Pork Youth Leadership Team are Dylan Riedemann of O’Brien County and McKenna Brining of Washington County. They will both serve as youth pork ambassadors for the year.

Taste of Elegance

Ben Jones with Brazen Open Kitchen & Bar in Dubuque was named Chef Par Excellence at the 31st Annual Iowa Pork Taste of Elegance that kicked off the Iowa Pork Congress events on Jan. 23.

Jones earned a plaque and $1,000 for his “Pork Tenderloin, Textures of Carrot, Hazelnut Dukka, Pigtail Briout” entrée. He also receives a trip to the National Pork Summit in St. Helena, Calif., this spring. He also brought home the Media’s Choice award and another $250.

More information on all the winners can be found online.

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