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Expert panel named to judge Pig Farmer award finalists

Five judges have been named to select the finalists for the second annual America’s Pig Farmer of the Year award. Public voting to take place online Sept. 1-10.

To help build consumer trust and foster greater transparency about U.S. pork production methods, the National Pork Board announced an expert judging panel that brings a new, multi-faceted approach to selecting the second annual America’s Pig Farmer of the Year.

Members of the five-member panel are Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane; Kari Underly, a third-generation butcher, author and principal of Range Inc., a meat marketing and education firm; Justin Ransom, senior director, supply chain management at McDonald’s USA; Jodi Sterle, an associate professor of animal science at Iowa State University; and Keith Schoettmer, the 2015 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year.

“We are very pleased to have such a diverse and accomplished group of experts to judge the finalists in this year’s America’s Pig Farmer of the Year Award,” says National Pork Board President Jan Archer, a pig farmer from Goldsboro, N.C. “It was important to create a unique judging panel that was objective and brought a variety of perspectives to the table.”

Looking forward to the finalist judging slated for Sept. 1, Ganzert says, “As an animal lover and the leader of the country’s first national humane organization, I am honored to again serve as a judge for America’s Pig Farmer of the Year. American Humane celebrates all those, including our nation’s farmers, who care for animals and work hard to ensure they are treated humanely. Today, more than ever, it is important not only to point out where progress is needed, but to recognize when we get it right.”

Joining Ganzert on the judging panel will be Ransom of McDonald’s, who says, “I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this national award program. I am eager to learn more about how America’s best pig farmers are tackling issues such as long-term sustainability on their farms.”

The judges will evaluate and score a video produced at the finalists’ farms and then conduct in-person interviews with them. The public can view the farmers’ videos and vote for a favorite Sept. 1-10 by going to The final winner will be announced Oct. 11.

The NPB has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects, and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, science and technology, swine health, pork safety and sustainability and environmental management.

For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at 800-456-7675 or visit

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