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Bill Crawford of Fairmont acknowledges those who have inspired him to serve the Minnesota swine industry — the men and women involved in pork production. National Hog Farmer/Kevin Schulz
Bill Crawford of Fairmont acknowledges those who have inspired him to serve the Minnesota swine industry — the men and women involved in pork production. Crawford received the Distinguished Service award Monday night at the Minnesota Pork Congress.

Minnesota Pork Congress honorees credit industry for their success

Minnesota pork producers are a proud group, but they also recognize that they cannot do it alone. As Clair Schmidt says “it takes a village to promote pork.”

The awards night kicking off the 2019 Minnesota Pork Congress shined brightly on a few honorees, but to each of them that recognition only reflected on a much broader group. Though their names may be on the specific awards, they all realize it is the work and commitment from all the people around them that enable the necessary work to get done.

“I’m not really doing anything different than anybody else,” Patrick Krzmarzick of Sleepy Eye said as he accepted the award for the Environmental Steward of the Year at the Monday evening awards ceremony. “We are blessed to live in a very productive area of Minnesota, that is sustainable production. … I want to leave a legacy.”

Leaving a legacy was a common theme throughout the awards ceremony, and the Boerboom Family of Marshall named the Family of the Year instills that as each of Greg and Paula’s three children are involved in Boerboom Ag Resources LLC.

Laurie, the oldest of the three children, is the company’s Human Resources director, as well as maintaining all production records and accounting.

Mike oversees the entire operation, including pig production and risk management, and Matt manages the feed mill.

“Family is the key word,” Greg says, and in the Boerboom operation, family goes beyond bloodlines as all employees involved are considered “family.”

Clair and Joanne Schmidt of Ceylon were humbled to be named Pork Promoter of the Year, with Clair admitting “it takes a village to promote pork.” Even in Martin County, where pork promotion is on most producers’ minds, the Schmidts simply feel they are doing what is expected.

Paul FitzSimmons with Protein Sources says 20 years ago he was seeking input about a potential new hire for one of his company’s barns. “The advice to hire Fran Breiter was exactly what I’ve gotten of the last 20 years. … Fran does not use ‘I’ in his vocabulary.”

Fran Breiter was named Swine Manager of the Year for his work with his team at the Protein Sources-managed facility near Osakis, and he says “it’s a joy to work with everyone and see the growth in the team. … I have had great leaders at Protein Sources who have led by example with their involvement in the community,” realizing the importance of being a presence not only in the ag industry, but also in the surrounding area.

Bill Crawford from Fairmont relishes his experiences over the years of working with some great leaders in the swine industry, and likewise he has been respected for his decades of service to the industry. “When I moved to Fairmont in 1992 to work in Extension, I thought I knew a lot about pork production, says the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Service award. If one is to learn about pork production, Crawford says what better place to learn than in the pork capital of Minnesota — Martin County.

“I worked in Extension for 10 years, then went to PCM (Preferred Capital Management), and then my education began,” he says. Deflecting credit elsewhere, Crawford told those in attendance, “you guys and ladies are the best pork producers in the world. Thank you for honoring me, but it’s because of you that I do what I do.”

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