The National Turkey Federation (NTF) elected the 2014 Executive Committee (EC) during its annual convention held February 12-15 in Orlando, Fla. Elected by the NTF Board of Directors, the EC contains a diverse group of turkey industry leaders. Among them is Gary Cooper, chief operating officer of Cooper Farms in Ohio - who was elected 2014 NTF chairman.
The board also elected Jihad Douglas, president of Aviagen Turkeys, as vice-chairman and John Reicks, vice president of operations of Hillshire Brands, as secretary-treasurer. John Burkel-an independent turkey grower from Badger, Minn., assumed the position of immediate past chairman.
Cooper spoke before an audience of several hundred turkey industry executives on the convention's last day. He is well versed on the issues facing the turkey industry. As one of the three children of Cooper Farms founders Virgil and Virginia Cooper, Cooper is chief operations officer of Cooper Farms, a leading food supplier - selling a variety of turkeys and turkey products, eggs, and pork, with divisions in Oakwood, Fort Recovery, St. Henry and Van Wert, Ohio. Cooper Farms, a vertically integrated company hatches 15 million poults a year, and raises and processes 210 million pounds of turkey meat a year. Prior to his election as chairman, Cooper served on NTF's Board as vice chairman, and once headed NTF's Worker Safety & Health Committee. Cooper a past president of the Ohio Poultry Association, a past member of the Midwest Poultry Consortium board and has been a board member for U.S. Poultry and Egg Association since 2003, where he was chairman during 2011.
The board also re-elected Matthew Cook, Norbest; Yubert Envia, Foster Farms; Rick Huisinga, Willmar Poultry Co.; Ron Kardel, West Liberty Foods; Ruth Kimmelshue, Cargill Value Added Meats; Glenn Leitch, Jennie-O Turkey Store; Ron Prestage, Prestage Farms; Jeff Sveen, Dakota Provisions; and, Carl Wittenburg, Protein Alliance, Inc., to the EC.
After the board meeting, the elected EC members appointed Rod Brenneman, Butterball, LLC; and Phil Seger, Farbest Foods, Inc., to the EC as at-large members.