Live from Chicago farm broadcaster Max Armstrong introduced the world to the 2017 America Pig Farmer of the Year, Leslie McCuiston. Hailing from Nebraska, she is the third pig farmer to hold this esteemed title.
McCuiston wears her passion for pig farming on her sleeve. It was evident why after an extensive selection process including a third-party audit of on-farm practices and a series of written and oral interviews she was named this year’s pig farmer of the year.
Her love for pigs and the pork industry is as strong as her two predecessors, Brad Greenway and Keith Schoettmer. Yet, McCuiston’s background is slightly different, illustrating the diversity in the industry. “As America’s Pig Farmer of Year, it is a privilege to share all those stories not only my own which is unique but all those people I have worked with over the years. We all have unique stories and have different ways of raising pigs, but at our heart, we are passionate caretakers of pigs,” she tells National Hog Farmer.
Here are three unique things about this year’s winner.
Diverse background: McCuiston started her career journey in the beef industry and moved into the pork industry after college. She has worked in all segments of the pork chain as an employee of Cargill and then returning to the farm to serve as a senior production manager for The Maschhoffs LLC, the largest family owned hog production network in North America. “It gave me lots of business and industry acumen that you do not get when we work on the farm barn every day,” explains McCuiston.
Psychology background: She spent two years of her higher education career studying psychology. It aided her by giving her more insight into working with people and also the behavior of the pig. Also, it assists her in empowering people as manager in the Great Plains region for The Maschhoffs.
First woman: Yes, McCuiston serves as the very first female America’s pig farmer. Many women embrace a career involving pigs, and pig farming is a great career for women. “The strength women show in leadership is really important. My team alone, six out of nine are women. They are the strongest there are,” she says with a smile.
As America’s Pig Farmer of the Year, McCuiston wants the world to know how much pig farmers care. “As pig farmers, every day we get up, and we want to do what is right for the pig. We want to do that in a way that is continuously sustainable for the environment. We want to that in a way we involve the experts for the care so the product the consumers purchase is safe,” she passionately claims.