Neil Dierks, CEO of the National Pork Producers Council, this week was given the Distinguished Support of Animal Science Award from the American Society of Animal Science at its joint annual meeting with the American Dairy Science Association in Orlando, Fla.
The ASAS supports the careers of scientists and animal producers in the United States and internationally, fostering the discovery, sharing and application of scientific knowledge on the responsible use of animals to enhance human life and well-being.
Dierks received the honor for his strong support for increasing agricultural research and education. Among other efforts, ASAS cited Dierks’ involvement in planning, developing and executing a legislative initiative by farm organizations to increase state appropriations for the Iowa State University College of Agriculture at a time when federal funds for the land-grant system were stagnant. That effort secured more than $10 million annually over a five-year period in new funding for the college.
The NPPC leader also staffed the first pork industry research review, identifying and cataloging swine and pork research efforts being conducted by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and land-grant universities. The work led to formal pork industry policies supporting increased resources for swine and pork research and more formal interaction among producers, USDA administrators and scientists.
“Neil has dedicated much of his career to advancing research and education efforts that aid the animal agriculture industry,” said ASAS CEO Meghan Wulster-Radcliffe. “His work has helped public- and private-sector scientists provide pork producers and others the knowledge they need to produce safe, nutritious, wholesome food while raising animals in a healthful, ethical way.”
Dierks joined the NPPC in 1990, serving in a series of senior executive positions, including vice president for research and education; he became CEO in 2002. A graduate of ISU, he serves on the board of directors of the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence, which works to facilitate cooperation and collaboration among and between universities, the pork industry and government to provide pork producers with research, education and information related to pork production and animal well-being.
Prior to working for the NPPC, Dierks was special activities director for the Iowa Pork Producers Association and marketing director for the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.