All four finalists competing to be named National Pork Board’s 2016 America's Pig Farmer of the Year share one trait. They all have family connections to farming.

The program honors a US pig farmer each year who excels at raising pigs using the We Care Initiative pig welfare ethical principles and is committed to sharing his or her farming story with the American public.

The We Care program is intended to demonstrate that pig producers are accountable to established ethical principles and animal well-being practices, according to the initiative’s website. We Care is a joint effort by the National Pork Producers Council and the Pork Checkoff, through the National Pork Board.

The four finalists met on September 1 with an expert panel of third-party judges in Chicago. The judges viewed videos produced at the finalists' farms and will interview each of them.

From September 1 through September 10, the public can vote once a day per person per email address for their favorite finalist at The winner will be announced Oct. 11.

About the four finalists

Craig Andersen – Centerville, South Dakota

Craig Andersen grew up and now lives on his family's Century Farm. Craig, along with his wife, Gail, and children, Tyler, Jacob and Emily, raises pigs in modern barns and markets 6,000 pigs annually. Andersen Farm also raises corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and cattle.

Jarrod Bakker – Dike, Iowa

Jarrod Bakker grew up on a farrow-to-finish pig farm. Bakker, along with his brother, Jordan, and wife, Shari, owns Bakker Bros. Genetics. The 50-sow farm markets 1,000 pigs annually. Bakker also works for Fast Genetics, where he sells breeding stock to farmers across the country.

Brad Greenway – Mitchell, South Dakota

Brad Greenway has raised pigs for the past 40 years on his family farm. Greenway and his wife Peggy own two 2,400-head, modern wean-to-finish pig barns. They also have a cow-calf operation and raise corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. The Greenways are also part owners in a 4,000-head sow farm where they source their pigs.

Maria Mauer – Greensburg, Indiana

Maria Mauer at Smiley Brothers, Inc. markets 18,000 pigs per year, Smiley Brothers is a farrow-to-finish operation. Mauer also believes in the importance in teaching her five-year old son life lessons by bringing him to the barn with her to care for the sows.