Kentucky Pork, Tennessee Pork partner on new strategic plan

Four foundational pillars to include work on farm-level success, team pork.

January 23, 2024

5 Min Read

The Kentucky Pork Producers Association Board of Directors unanimously voted to accept the Kentucky & Tennessee Pork Strategic Plan at the 2024 Annual Meeting.

The volunteer producer-led boards for Tennessee and Kentucky Pork approved a strategic planning process to explore an innovative, collaborative approach to state association leadership. The initiative began in 2022 and the process was designed in phases – discovery, design, approval/adoption and implementation.

During the discovery phase, outreach was conducted to identify and explore stakeholder priorities. A representative and diverse cross section of stakeholders for Tennessee and Kentucky Pork were invited to complete a survey and interviews were conducted. An 11-question electronic survey was distributed with 41 responses. Eighteen interviews were conducted. Interviews included farmers/state producer leaders, veterinarians, state government officials, state allied agriculture organization leaders and National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council leaders.

“The National Pork Board is proud of the leadership and work by the producers and staff at the Kentucky and Tennessee Pork Associations to find new ways to collaborate while maintaining each state’s unique identity,” said Bill Even, CEO of NPB. “Our Checkoff paying producers appreciate us finding ways to make their hard-earned dollars go farther through communication, collaboration and coordination while eliminating duplication”

The design phase consisted of an in-person meeting in November 2023. A Task Force representing Tennessee and Kentucky Pork Producers, their state association staff and a National Pork Board representative met in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

During this portion of the process, Task Force participants:

  • Reviewed stakeholder input collected through the survey and interviews.

  • Discussed strengths and opportunities for a potential collaboration.

  • Confirmed four foundational pillars for the strategic work of the associations.

  • Developed draft strategic imperatives for each foundational pillar.

  • Named a smaller Task Force to develop a formal recommendation for a collaborative relationship between the two state associations.

Tennessee and Kentucky Pork staff leaders established action items, timelines and metrics for each strategic imperative.

The strategic plan and recommendation for a formal collaboration was presented and unanimously accepted by each state association’s board of directors at their respective annual meetings.

The collaboration between Tennessee and Kentucky Pork allows the organizations to align on common strategic principles and deliver value to their producer members by collectively acting in their interest. The collaboration allows for pooling financial resources to apply the funds for the greatest impact on shared issues. The associations have similar strengths with a shared producer base, an emphasis in youth engagement, a positive reputation as collaborators and in advocacy arenas, and a desire to be representative of all sizes and types of producers. This collaboration is successful when everyone involved is committed to success and willing to innovate.

“As a co-chair for the state task force where we looked at the relationship between national organizations and state organizations, we looked at what a viable state association looked like,” said Scott Hays, National Pork Producers Council president. “Kentucky and Tennessee are coming together and leveraging producer’s dollars in a much more effective way to do what needs to be done for the producer.”

The four foundational pillars for the strategic work of the associations and the strategic imperatives within each pillar are as follows:

Trust & Image

  • Strategic Imperative 1: Promote modern pork production as a sustainable practice to increase consumer acceptance of pork as a desirable, nutritious protein.

  • Strategic Imperative 2: Engage with state regulators and policy makers to support a favorable environment for pork production.

  • Strategic Imperative 3: Provide educational experiences for members, consumers, and stakeholders to increase knowledge of pork and pork production.

People & Communities

  • Strategic Imperative 1: Build the leadership capacity of our volunteer producer leader and staff.

  • Strategic Imperative 2: Expand proactive communication to priority audiences.

  • Strategic Imperative 3: Invest in issues that impact the health and vitality of our states.

  • Strategic Imperative 4: Increase awareness of career opportunities in the pork industry.

Farm-Level Success

  • Strategic Imperative 1: Demonstrate our commitment to protecting the environment.

  • Strategic Imperative 2: Protect our food supply and national security while ensuring viable pork production.

  • Strategic Imperative 3: Develop a responsive plan to deliver continuing education programs.

Team Pork

  • Strategic Imperative 1: Establish a collaborative relationship between states that is efficient, innovative, and delivers return on investment.

"As pork producers, it's imperative that we protect and manage our resources to the best of our ability. Whether that be financial resources, staff, or leadership,” said Eric Heard, current Kentucky Pork Producers Association Board of Directors president. “It’s encouraging to see the synergy between the two states, and we’re excited to better serve pork producers in both Kentucky and Tennessee.”

Each association will be keeping their own separate identity but will be overseen by a managing council with representatives from both Kentucky and Tennessee. Eric Heard and Annie Tolle will be representatives for Kentucky, Jamie Weaver and Katie Sherman for Tennessee. The Council will be overseen by Niki Ellis, Executive Director of Kentucky Pork Producers Association.

“It’s been inspiring to watch Kentucky and Tennessee’s pork producers come together to create solutions for the future of their industry.” said Kentucky Executive Director Niki Ellis. “Our producers have showcased their passion and aren’t afraid to reinvent the way their associations operate to meet the changes of the future. I’m honored to be tasked with leading the collaboration and working alongside my team to build success for our farm families across the mid-south.”

Members of the Strategic Planning Task Force Include; Eric Heard (KY), Annie Tolle (KY), Niki Ellis (KY), Sarah Jones (KY/TN), Jimmy Tosh (KY/TN), Jamie Weaver (TN), Katie Sherman (TN), Phyllis Ferguson (TN) and Brett Kaysen (NPB).

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