Surber family receives Ohio Pork Industry Excellence Award

Ohio Pork Council honors outstanding leaders and organizations of the pork industry.

February 16, 2018

7 Min Read
Surber family receives Ohio Pork Industry Excellence Award

At the Ohio Pork Congress, the Ohio Pork Council honors outstanding leaders and organizations of the pork industry.

One dedicated pork producing family each year is award with the title of “Ohio Pork Industry Excellence Award.” The Surber Family is this year’s recipient.

The Surber family has been farming in southern Ohio for over 200 years. John and Connie grew up raising pigs the old way. Wanting to grow, he saw an opportunity to build a contract pig barn. The first pig barn was built in 2001 and was managed by Connie along with help from the family. This opportunity was a great fit for the family, and they laugh how it changed the conversation around their supper table. Now, 16 years later, the Surber family continues to raise pigs, focusing on breeding stock for PIC Genetics.

The Ohio Pork Industry Excellence Award, sponsored by Elanco Animal Health, is presented to a pork farmer, or farm family, for their willingness to go above-and-beyond to donate time, money and talents on behalf of the industry. 

John and Connie are active volunteers for the Ohio Pork Council, hosting farm tours, holding blogger events and promoting pork on a daily basis. They have performed over 100 Operation Main Street speeches. Additionally, Connie served as a board member and is currently on the Demand Enhancement Committee.

Today, the family is committed to the future of pork production and doing things the right way. They believe it is essential to tell the facts about what they do every day. For the Surber’s it is not a job, it is their life.

Swine Manager of Year

Ben Pitstick, Fine Swine, is this year’s swine manager of year. The Ohio Pork Council Swine Manager of the Year Award recognizes an exemplary leader of a swine operation. This individual is expected to be highly knowledgeable of the pork industry and has demonstrated the ability to make key decisions on behalf of their operation.


Ben is currently the Operations Manager at Fine Swine, where he oversees the company’s production and animal welfare divisions. In this role, Ben’s main focus is on the continuous improvement of Fine Swine facilities, including developing new products that promote the future of animal welfare.

Ben is constantly researching new technology and methods that allow for better animal care, and production management throughout the company. Most recently, Ben partnered with The Ohio State University to develop a tool to help euthanize small pigs. This tool is used in all Fine Swine units and others across the state.

Before becoming Operations Manager, Ben attended Wilmington College and managed a 2,500- head sow unit for Fine Swine. During this time, Ben oversaw the building of two new GDU’s and a 6,250-head sow unit. Although Ben’s career got its start as a means to pay for college tuition, it quickly became evident that his knowledge of the industry and leadership abilities would benefit him, and his employers for years to come. Ben is often characterized as a hard-working and dedicated professional in the industry, and among peers. His attention to detail and ability to plan ahead are truly unlike many others. As stated by Dave Heisler, owner, Fine Swine, “Ben does not accept just getting the job done, he wants it done right.”

Ben and his wife, Tara, reside in Jeffersonville with their two children.

Pork Promoter of the Year

The Pork Promoter of the Year award is bestowed annually to an individual or company who excels in their promotion of the pork industry. For 2018, the Ohio Pork Council is honored to recognize Central Ohio’s City Barbeque and Catering as Pork Promoter of the Year.

Rick Malir, CEO and founder of City Barbeque, grew up on a farm in Kansas, served as president of the national FFA, and put himself through college (where he majored in Agricultural Economics) raising and showing pigs. With his wife, Bonnie—who herself holds a degree in Animal Science—Malir went into the barbeque business in 1999, using his agricultural background to guide the company’s trajectory and growth.

“We’re honored to be named Pork Promoter of the Year,” said Malir. “We understand the effort, and hard work pork producers put forth every day, and are so grateful for their dedication to bringing us the quality of shoulders and ribs our guests expect and crave.”

Founded on the strength of a handful of recipes from a winning barbeque competition team, City Barbeque today offers a diverse menu blending barbeque classics with a roster of award-winning BBQ innovations. As part of its commitment to “competition quality” ‘que, City Barbeque restaurants source high-quality ingredients across the board, including the 3.7 million pounds of pork ribs and shoulders the restaurant sold in 2017. City Barbeque is now beloved in 35 cities across nine markets and employs more than 1,300 folks nationwide.

“Our continued growth and success just wouldn’t be possible without our valued partnerships like those we have with Ohio pork farmers,” Malir acknowledged. “On behalf of the entire team here at City Barbeque: thank you!”

Friend of Ohio Pork

The work of the Ohio Pork Council is made possible by the many generous supporters who devote time and resources to enhance the organization’s efforts on behalf of all farmers. Without strong advocates, OPC would not have the ability to operate in the way it does today. In an effort to acknowledge, and express gratitude, OPC established the Friends of the Ohio Pork Industry award. This Award recognizes an individual, organization or company that has made a substantial impact on the organization through monetary support and volunteer activities throughout the year.

This year, the Ohio Pork Council is pleased to honor Farm Credit Mid-America with the 2018 Friend of the Ohio Pork Industry Award. Farm Credit Mid-America has been a longtime supporter of the Ohio Pork Council.

Through their support and contributions, the organization can participate in events, create videos and host Virtual Field Trips – a program that welcomes students from all over the state to a pig barn, without leaving the classroom. Farm Credit Mid-America’s support is among the most prominent and has truly shaped the work of the Ohio Pork Council over the years.

“The Ohio Pork Council’s activities and programs have generated countless positive interactions with consumers about agriculture, where food comes from and how it’s raised. On behalf of the more than 27,000 Farm Credit customers across Ohio, we can think of no better way to secure the future of rural communities and agriculture than to invest in industry partners like the OPC that promote a positive and professional image of farmers. We appreciate and are honored to receive this recognition,” says Tara Durbin, Senior Vice President with Farm Credit Mid-America.

Farm Credit Mid-America is an agricultural lending cooperative owned and controlled by its customers. With more than 1,200 employees, Farm Credit Mid-America is a $22 billion cooperative serving nearly 100,000 customers throughout Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Industry Service Award


Each year the Ohio Pork Council presents the Ohio Pork Industry Service Award to an individual who exemplifies outstanding service to the swine industry. This individual exceeds volunteer expectations and is willing
to support the pork industry at all times. This year, the Ohio Pork Council is pleased to congratulate the 2018 Ohio Pork Industry Service Award recipient, Glen Arnold.

As a Field Specialist and Associate Professor with The Ohio State University Extension, Glen conducts research using liquid livestock manure to replace commercially purchased fertilizer on wheat and corn. Through his research,
Glen is able to prove that applying manure to growing crops creates an “in-season” window for manure application, and results in less manure being applied in the fall months. As a result of his findings, Glen has authored several
journal articles on using manure with growing cops and is referenced nationally as a subject matter expert. Glen also serves as a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) and instructor for Livestock Mortality Composting workshops across the state.
In addition to his professional life, Glen remains actively involved in Ohio pork industry and community activities.

For more than 20 years, Glen coordinated the pork producer’s banquets, winter educational meetings, and worked with troubleshooting swine barn ventilation issues in Putnam County. Additionally, Glen is an active member of the Putnam County Optimist Club, coordinating the Toys for Tots program, and his local church where he assists with their annual fundraiser. Glen was raised on a small crop and livestock farm in southeast Ohio. He taught Vocational Agriculture
at Randolph Southern High School in Lynn, Indiana for five years before becoming a county extension educator in Putnam County, Ohio for 22-years. Today, Glen and his wife Patty reside in the town of Glandorf, Ohio.

Subscribe to Our Newsletters
National Hog Farmer is the source for hog production, management and market news

You May Also Like