Pork leaders recognized for outstanding service

Three outstanding pork leaders honored for their dedication to the swine business.

March 3, 2017

6 Min Read
Pork leaders recognized for outstanding service

The National Pork Producers Council joined the National Pork Board in honoring three pork leaders for their outstanding leadership and dedication to the swine business at the 2017 Pork Industry Forum in Atlanta, Ga.  

Former Iowa Pork Producers CEO honored

The NPPC and the Pork Board presented former Iowa Pork Producers Association CEO Rich Degner with the inaugural Paulson-Whitmore State Executive Award at their annual business meeting.


The award, named after Don Paulson, past Minnesota state pork executive, and Rex Whitmore, past Wisconsin state pork executive, recognizes the outstanding leadership and commitment of state pork organization executives.

The Pork Board also honored Degner with the Distinguished Service Award. The award is given to an outstanding leader to recognize his or her lifelong contribution to the pork industry.

Degner worked for IPPA for 35 years, serving as CEO the last 17 of those years before retiring in 2015. He began his career at the organization as program and communications director then moved to pork product promotion in Iowa and overseas.

He developed the structure for producer financial and business plan assistance following the pork economic crisis of the late-1980s, was active in federal level lobbying and helped create the Iowa Pork Tent at the Iowa State Fair, which now is a cornerstone of the fair and Iowa’s pork industry. Degner also played a key role in expanding pork export markets, leading producers on more than 50 trade missions to more than 20 countries.

While at IPPA, he guided pork producers in complying with new regulations while modernizing their farms, helping to redefine the production model in Iowa to respond to environmental concerns and to write the regulations that would shape the industry.

Degner, who grew up on his family’s farm in northwest Iowa, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural education from Iowa State University and, after graduation, taught vocational agriculture in Rock Valley and Ankeny, Iowa, before joining IPPA.

“Rich has dedicated his life to the U.S. pork industry, and the Iowa pork industry grew and prospered under his strong leadership,” says NPPC CEO Neil Dierks. “Like so many of our industry leaders, Rich focused on the producers and their success and on adding value to their product. NPPC is pleased, along with the National Pork Board, to present Rich with this well-deserved award.”

“Rich has provided extraordinary leadership to the pork industry,” says National Pork Board President Jan Archer, a pork producer from Goldsboro, N.C. “Through the years, he worked tirelessly for the advancement of pork producers, as well as for the industry in Iowa and across the United States.”

Determan inducted into NPPC Hall of Fame

Barb Determan, a pork producer from Early, Iowa, today was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Pork Producers Council for her perseverance and leadership of and dedication to the U.S. pork industry at NPPC’s annual business meeting.


Determan, who grew up on a diversified farm in west central Illinois, is president, owner and strategist of Heartland Marketing Group. She and husband, Steve, also raise hogs.

Serving as NPPC president from March 2001 to March 2002, Determan oversaw the court-ordered split of the Pork Checkoff Program from NPPC that paved the way for the council to reestablish itself to provide the legislative, regulatory and trade advocacy necessary for the industry to achieve success.

In addition to leading the board of directors, she served as the de facto CEO of the reconstituted NPPC — most of the organization’s staff were running the checkoff, which then fell to the newly established National Pork Board. Three months after being elevated to president, Determan had to weather the cancellation of NPPC’s World Pork Expo because of the worldwide scare of foot-and-mouth disease, then she guided the organization through the dark days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America.

Since those tumultuous times, Determan has dedicated much of her time and effort to promoting and serving American agriculture generally and the U.S. pork industry specifically. She served on the Iowa 4-H Foundation board of directors, including as chairwoman in 2012, and recently was nominated by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to serve on the Iowa Great Places Advisory Board. She also was elected to the U.S. Animal Health Association board. She has been a volunteer committee member for NPPC for the past 20 years and for the National Pork Board for nearly 15 years.

“As president of NPPC, Barb guided the organization through a period of great turmoil, and since that time, she’s dedicated herself to promoting and helping our industry,” says newly-elected NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “For her can-do spirit and innumerable contributions to the U.S. pork industry, we are extremely pleased to induct Barb Determan into the NPPC Hall of Fame.”

Late Doug Wolf inducted into NPPC Hall of Fame

For his passion for pork production and his genuine care and concern for those in the pork industry, the late Doug Wolf, a pork producer from Lancaster, Wis., today was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Pork Producers Council at the organization’s annual business meeting.


Wolf, who died suddenly last July, was a partner in Wolf L&G Farms LLC, with his wife, Kris, and son Shannon. The farm includes a sow farrow-to-finish operation, a cow-calf herd, feedlot and 1,200 acres on which corn, soybeans and alfalfa are raised.

He served on the NPPC board of directors for five years, including as president from March 2011 to March 2012. In addition to his service with NPPC, Wolf was involved with the National Pork Board — including as chairman of its Trade Committee — the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, the U.S. Meat Export Federation, the Wisconsin Pork Association, the Grant County (Wis.) Pork Producers, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Wolf was particularly interested in trade, knowing that pork industry growth would come from expanded export opportunities. He participated in several pork industry trade missions abroad.

“Doug Wolf was a humble guy, who put family first, the pork industry and farming second and himself last,” says NPPC CEO Neil Dierks. “His quiet, unassuming manner belied the fierce proponent he was for our industry. He truly valued the relationships he forged with pork producers around the country, and his spirit and love for agriculture and pork production lives on in many others, particularly his family. We are honored to have Doug be in the NPPC Hall of Fame.”

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