Keith Schoettmer, a pig farmer from Tipton, Indiana, is the recipient of the National Pork Board’s first America’s Pig Farmer of the Year Award. The award is designed to recognize a pig farmer who excels at raising pigs using the We Care ethical principles and connects with today’s consumers about how pork is produced.

“We are pleased to have Keith represent America’s pig farmers, and we look forward to the dialog he will create as he travels around the country,” said Derrick Sleezer, National Pork Board president and pig farmer from Cherokee, Iowa. “It’s important that we connect with today’s consumers about how we raise their food in an ethical and transparent way. Keith’s interest in sharing his farm’s story – and putting a face on today’s pig farming – will help us reach this goal.”

Schoettmer and his wife Darla founded his family farm, Schoettmer Prime Pork, in 1987. They’ve grown the farm steadily over the years with their community’s values in mind and now raise about 22,000 pigs annually with the help of several full-time employees.

“I’m honored to receive this award from the National Pork Board,” said Schoettmer. “I couldn’t do what I do every day without the help of family and employees, so this award signifies a collective recognition of what we do every day on the farm to care for our pigs, our people and the planet.”

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Schoettmer was selected as the first winner of America’s Pig Farmer of the Year after passing a third-party audit of on-farm practices and going through a series of written and oral interviews conducted by subject-matter experts. He has achieved excellence in all aspects of pig farming, including animal care, environmental stewardship, employee work environment and outstanding community service.

The panel of expert judges met in early September with the final four finalists. The panel included Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association; Carlos Saviani, vice president of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) U.S. food team; Mitzi Dulan, a registered dietitian and a nationally recognized nutrition and wellness expert to the Kansas City Royals; Chris Soules, a farmer from Arlington, Iowa, and a television star from The Bachelor and Dancing with the Stars; and Dr. Jodi Sterle, an associate professor of animal science at Iowa State University and a nationally known youth advisor in livestock exhibition.

As a judging panel member, Ganzert said, “Today, more than ever, it is important not only to point out where progress is needed, but to recognize when we get it right. The farmers I met with are working to give America’s families food that is safe, affordable, abundant and in line with their values.”

Schoettmer said, “I am proud of the hard work my fellow farmers put into producing safe, high-quality food. I look forward to sharing my personal farm story with consumers to help them understand the care that goes into today’s pork production.”