The National Pork Board has announced the four finalists vying for the title of its new America’s Pig Farmer of the Year award program. The goal of the program is to honor the U.S. 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 2015 finalists are:
- Steve Kerns – Clearfield, Iowa
- Marti Knoblock – Rock Rapids, Iowa
- Keith Schoettmer – Tipton, Ind.
- Lauren Schwab – Somerville, Ohio
The four finalists are meeting Sept. 1 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.
Through Sept. 10, the public can vote once a day per person per email address for their favorite finalist at www.americaspigfarmer.com. The winner will be announced Oct. 7.
The award, in its inaugural year, is part of the NPB’s commitment to grow consumer trust in all aspects of U.S. pork production.
About the finalists
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.
Marti Knoblock – Rock Rapids, Iowa
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.
Keith Schoettmer – Tipton, Ind.
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.
Lauren Schwab – Somerville, Ohio
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.
About the expert judging panel
The judges are Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association; Carlos Saviani, vice president of the World Wildlife Fund’s U.S. food team; Mitzi Dulan, a registered dietitian and a nationally recognized 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 adviser in livestock exhibition.
About the contest
The NPB created the America’s Pig Farmer of the Year contest in order to recognize the best in pig farming. This prestigious honor will be awarded annually to the pig farmer who demonstrates and lives by the We Care ethical principles.