Several influential and inspiring Iowa pork industry leaders took home top honors last week from the Iowa Pork Congress.
Fifth generation farmers, Aaron and Alyce Nieland of Breda, were named the 2019 recipients of the Pork All-American Award.
The Iowa Pork Producers Association Pork All-American award was established in 1970 to honor producers younger than 40 years of age who have established themselves as community leaders and successful and dedicated business people. They have also previously been presented with the Master Pork Producer designation; the Nielands won that award in 2017.
The Nielands finish pigs and farm row crops. The pig barns allowed them to diversify their farm operation. Together, they handle the day-to-day animal care, where Alyce specializes in getting weaned pigs off to a good start. Alyce also oversees the pig barns, which is a good fit with her animal science degree from Iowa State University.
They are contract growers for AMVC (Audubon-Manning Veterinary Clinic), and the Nielands often host veterinary students in their buildings when AMVC is providing on-farm practice for those students.
Aaron runs their expanding crop operation, which uses all the manure from their pig barns. They do soil sampling and follow a manure management plan developed with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. He also runs seed-related trials in their fields.
Aaron and Alyce have three children under the age of 10: Aisha, Will and Ellie. They are involved in their church, the Sac County Pork Producers and help coach Little League teams. Alyce also runs a Facebook page called Pigs and Kids, where she shares news about the farm and promotes the swine industry.
During the 2020 Iowa Pork Congress, IPPA also introduced the 2019 class of Master Pork Producers and Master Pork Partners.
A Master Pork Producer award denotes an individual's or family's excellence in pork production, as measured by their pork production statistics, their commitment to We Care principles, and their contribution to their community. There are six We Care principles that outline a pig farmer's responsibilities to uphold high standards for animal well-being, food safety, the environment, as well as support of their local community.
IPPA's 78th class of Master Pork Producers includes eight pig farmers. They are:
- Ben Reck, Winthrop, Buchanan County
- Bruce Edwards and Kerry Edwards, Storm Lake, Buena Vista County
- Andrew Perry, Aurelia, Cherokee County
- Javan and Danielle Kruse, Hartley, Clay and O'Brien Counties
- Ryan Tripp and Brent Tripp, Dows, Franklin County
- Allan Schmidt, Holstein, Ida County
- Nolan Kooiker, Doon, Lyon County
- Bill and Joan Tentinger, Le Mars, Plymouth County
IPPA started the Master Pork Producer Award program in 1942 and has now named 1,492 Iowa pig farmers as Master Pork Producers.
IPPA created the Master Pork Partner Award in 2014 to recognize pork production company employees who have made positive impacts on pork production systems, even though they don't have active daily roles at a specific production site. There were two categories added to the Partner Awards in 2019 to recognize other important partners in pig production. One of these awards is for veterinary care, the other for transportation.
The 2019 Master Pork Partners are:
- Matt Zitelman, a Pipestone Systems manager near Winthrop, Buchanan County
- Shamus Brown, DVM at Iowa Select Farms, Indianola, Warrant County
- Ty Rosburg, an independent trucker at Rosburg Livestock, Charter Oak, Crawford County
All award winners are nominated by their peers and neighbors and represent the diversity of Iowa's pig farms. This production diversity helps maintain the strength of the industry and enables Iowa producers to compete successfully in the domestic and international commodity and niche markets.
The Iowa Pork Producers Association and Iowa State University Extension co-sponsor the Master Pork Producer program to demonstrate the character and breadth of Iowa pork production. Nominations for the 2020 Master Pork Program awards will open in May.
Abby Bean, Marathon; Alexis Berte, Algona; and Caleb Hogan, Monticello, have been selected for the 2020 Iowa Pork Youth Leadership Team. They were chosen from a field of 13 contestants during the Iowa Pork Congress.
IPPA sponsors the contest, which includes interviews, demonstrations of their outreach skills, and testing on their knowledge of pork and pig production. They also were judged on their community involvement and experience. The top female contestant is crowned pork queen, and the top remaining contestants, male or female, are named youth ambassadors.
Bean, a senior at Sioux Central High School in Sioux Rapids, will reign as the 2020 Iowa Pork Queen. Berte and Hogan are Pork Ambassadors. Each receives a $4,000 scholarship and plaque noting their award. But according to their predecessors, the most valuable things they will gain are the many growth and leadership opportunities provided by these positions. Over the next year, they will participate in public activities promoting pork and pig production, from county activities around Iowa to the Iowa State Fair, World Pork Expo, and events in Washington, D.C.
Bean, who also served as the Buena Vista County Pork Queen in 2018 and 2019, is the daughter of CJ and Chris Bean of Marathon. After graduating from high school this spring, she plans to pursue a degree in feed science and agricultural marketing. She is a member of the 2019-2020 Iowa State 4-H Council.
Berte, the daughter of Patrick and Nancy Berte of Algona, is a junior studying animal science at Iowa State University, with plans to go on to veterinary school. In summer 2019, she was a production intern with Midwest-based Christensen Farms, one of the largest, family-owned pork producers in the country. She served as the 2018-2019 North Central vice president of the Iowa FFA Association.
Hogan is a freshman studying agriculture business at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, and he plans to continue his studies at Iowa State University. The son of Dominic and Karen Hogan of Monticello, he grew up helping his dad with pig chores and eventually began managing a 2,400-head hog barn. He currently works as a research assistant at Diamond V's Research and Innovation Center on Kirkwood's agriculture campus.