Last week in San Antonio, as real pig farmers gathered for their annual Pork Industry Forum meeting, they learned of a new opportunity to shine.
The America’s Pig Farmer of the YearSM award, which was created to honor the producer who best excels at raising pigs using the We CareSM ethical principles, will open its entries April 1, 2015. The focus of the award is on environmental sustainability, along with animal welfare, production efficiency, the adoption of best practices and a commitment to continuous improvement.
Third-party judges will help determine the recipient, with the winner announced during National Pork Month in October. Short video clips of the finalists will be displayed at americaspigfarmer.com, where consumers can vote for their favorite.
A big fan of the new program? Chris Soules. The Bachelor, who spoke at the Pork Industry Forum, encouraged attendees to “give this opportunity some careful thought along with other ways you can reach out to our non-farm consumers. Because it’s up to us to tell our story and share the message of America’s farmers.”
No stranger to the spotlight after a season as the country’s most famous farm boy, the Iowa native was just announced as a contestant on the 20th season of Dancing with the Stars. In his speech, Soules said time and time again that high risk equals high reward.
“This is true whether going on a show like The Bachelor or in my career of farming. By accepting a place on ABC’s hit television series, I took a risk – a risk that people would look into the details of my life, the risk to be in a vulnerable position on national television and a risk to fall in love. However, with all of these risks came a great deal of reward,” he said.
“I was able to represent myself and my family in a genuine, honorable manner. I was able to bring attention to the state of Iowa, and I have a new platform of supporters and followers who I can educate about the good works of farmers and what the American farmer does day in and day out to feed our growing population.”
He compared those risks and rewards to the ones he faces on the farm every day, including the weather and fluctuating commodity prices.
“Through farming and my time on The Bachelor,” he said. “I have realized the importance of putting yourself out there and taking a calculated risk in order to earn a big reward.”
And this fall, one real pig farmer will earn a reward of his or her own through the first annual America’s Pig Farmer of the Year award.