The National Pork Board honored Jim Meimann as the recipient of its Distinguished Service Award on March 7, during the National Pork Industry Forum, the industry’s annual business meeting, held in San Antonio, Texas. Meimann is the former senior vice president of governance and operations for the NPB.
The award is given annually to recognize the lifelong contribution to the pork industry by an outstanding leader.
“Jim has provided extraordinary leadership to the pork industry,” says Danita Rodibaugh, a pork producer from Rensselaer, Ind. “He was always respectful that the Pork Checkoff dollars that were invested came from producers. While he was a great leader, mentor and adviser, he had great respect for the Pork Checkoff as a producer-led organization in which producers made decisions on how dollars were invested.”
Meimann grew up on a diversified crop and livestock farm in central Iowa and attended Iowa State University. After graduation, Meimann worked in a variety of jobs, including the Iowa Department of Agriculture, where he served as the assistant deputy secretary for 13 years. Meimann was also honored as a 2013 National Hog Farmer Master of the Pork Industry.
In 1985, Congress passed the Pork Act, which provided for the national mandatory Checkoff. Meimann came to the National Pork Producers Council as the director of policy and administration to organize programs to comply with the Pork Act and Order. With the new mandatory Checkoff, he was instrumental in putting together the accounting, auditing and administrative structures that helped develop and execute programming.
Meimann’s greatest challenge came with the hog market crash of 1998 and subsequent referendum vote in 2000. Prices plummeted, producers suffered and some even lost their farms. One of the important jobs that Meimann took on during the referendum was to help tell pork producers how their Checkoff dollars were being spent. In 2001, after the announcement and subsequent reversal of the referendum by then U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, Meimann was essential in helping to separate the NPB and the NPPC.
After the referendum, Meimann served as the key point of contact with the Agricultural Marketing Service, a branch of the USDA, which provides governmental oversight of the Checkoff. He also played an important role in defending the Pork Checkoff’s intellectual property and trademarks, such as Pork: The Other White Meat.
“There was no more dedicated employee at the NPB than Jim Meimann,” says John Johnson, chief operations officer of the Pork Checkoff. “His passion for the industry was genuine and ran deep. He had personal affection for the people in the industry that he knew over the years. He was committed to the success of the Pork Checkoff.”