Source: National Pork Board
The National Pork Board announced today that Kyle Coble from Minnesota, Logan Thornton from Idaho and Maddie Schafer from Minnesota have been named the inaugural Pig Farmers of Tomorrow. They were recognized today at the 2017 National Pork Industry in Atlanta.
“It is important for the Checkoff to recognize the future leaders of the pork industry,” says National Pork Board President Jan Archer, a pork producer from Goldsboro, N.C. “We are excited for these young farmers to share their unique stories with consumers.”
The new award recognizes farm leaders, ages 18-29, who intend to make pig farming their life’s work and who are committed to raising pigs using the pork industry’s We Care ethical principles. The winners will speak at Pork Checkoff events and provide content on #RealPigFarming, which is the pork industry’s social media program.
Coble is the senior manager of production strategies and a swine nutritionist with New Fashion Pork in Jackson, Minn. New Fashion Pork, a leading producer of high-quality pork, has farms in Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota, Wyoming and Wisconsin.
“I’m excited to introduce the public to different types of pig farmers,” Coble says. “For instance, I use math and statistics every day to help our team decide which production practices help us provide a safe, wholesome, affordable protein.”
Coble sees the importance of selling the agriculture story as a viable career for young people to pursue. “Every time they do the Ag Census, the average age of farmers increases by two years,” he says. “We need to retain and recruit young people to inspire involvement in our industry. We also need to recruit from non-farm backgrounds.”
Getting the next generation involved in agriculture, and more specifically the swine industry, can occur by mentoring young people. “Everyone here was once a novice,” Coble tells the Pork Act delegates. “We need to pay it forward. Without mentors, I may not have chosen the pork industry.”
Schafer is the seventh-generation of her family to farm near Goodhue, Minn. The Schafers operate a 1,600-sow unit, a 600-sow unit and seven replacement gilt development barns.
“It is important for all pig farmers take every opportunity to start conversations about farming,” Schafer says. “These connections help dispel misconceptions about our farming practices and show consumers how much we care about raising healthy pigs.”
Schafer is excited to use her platform as a Pig Farmer of Tomorrow to share her story with an expanding audience. “We all provide the best animal care for our pigs,” she says. “Farming is a way to make a life; it’s not about the money. Because fewer people are involved in agriculture, that means we have to do a better job of telling our stories. Consumers don’t care how much we know, until they know how much we care.”
Thornton runs Flying Pig Farm, a farrow-to-finish farm near Kuna, Idaho. Flying Pig Farm markets 3,000 pigs a year. The Thorntons have a farrowing and nursery barn, and use hoop barns to finish pigs and for sow gestation.
“My family and I care for each pig individually,” Thornton says. “Raising healthy pigs is important to us, and I’m excited to share our story with consumers, especially on social media.”
Thornton brings his passion for the pork industry, and he is ready to share it with consumers. “I love raising pigs; it’s the only thing I’ve ever thought about doing.”
“We know consumers want to know, and deserve to know, how their food is raised. As pig farmers, we’re the only ones who can share this story firsthand,” Thornton says.
An industry panel of judges selected the 2017 Pig Farmers of Tomorrow, who all have had a Common Industry Audit completed on their farms, and have become Pork Quality Assurance-Plus certified.
National Hog Farmer's Kevin Schulz contributed to this article.