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Roy Graber, staff reporter for WATTAgNet, combines his Midwestern farming background with his knowledge of economics and agriculture policy to offer a deeper look at the poultry and pig industries.
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Animal agriculture lost a lot of good leaders in 2016

agriculture obituaries
Many leaders in animal agriculture who passed away during the past year are kindly remembered. | Grandaded, Bigstock

Poultry, pig and feed industries mourn loss of people who played key roles in helping feed the world

December 20, 2016

I keep hearing that 2016 will be remembered as a year that so many noteworthy people passed away.

But what most people mean when they say this is that we lost so many people in the world of pop culture.

This is true. I can’t think of another year that we lost so many celebrities, as we lost musicians like Glenn Frey, David Bowie and Merle Haggard; actors and actresses like Florence Henderson, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Alan Rickman; former U.S. First Lady Nancy Reagan, astronaut and senator John Glenn, and boxer Muhammad Ali.

And while all of the aforementioned made great contributions to the world, a lot of people heavily involved in animal agriculture, whose contributions to humanity were also quite noteworthy, also passed away in 2016.

While it would be practically impossible to list all of the people who made positive contributions to the agriculture industry, I apologize if I inadvertently left anybody out. Based off of earlier reports on WATTAgNet, here are a few of the noteworthy people who we lost in 2016, listed chronologically, that deserve one more round of recognition:

Buddy Wray

Having started his career with Tyson Foods in 1961, Donald E. “Buddy” Wray worked his way up to becoming the president and chief operating officer of the company in the early 1990s. He held that position until he retired in 2000. However, he remained involved with the company as a board member until 2003. Five years later, he returned to Tyson as an executive vice president and special assistant to the president and CEO – a position he held until 2014.

H. Connor Kennett Jr.

A 32-year employee of the USDA Poultry Division, H. Connor Kennett Jr. went to work for the agency in 1956. He was named director of the division in 1973, a position he held for 15 years.

Enrique Pablos Pérez

Enrique Pablos Perez founded Norel, which develops, manufactures and markets additives and raw materials for animal nutrition. He was chairman since it originated in 1980. Eighteen patents and several registered trademarks were filed under his name.

Otto Jech

Otto Jech was named executive vice president of George’s Inc. in 1980, having worked with the company since 1951. He continued to oversee and assist with George’s operations and the expansion of the company until his death.

Marek Pospiech

Marek W. Pospiech was a driving force behind Pas Reform’s commercial services in Central and Eastern Europe. Pospiech held numerous positions in the poultry industry on both sides of the Atlantic, including poultry specialist, economist, geneticist and breeding production manager.

Jim West

Jim West, vice president of JS West Milling Co., was the grandson of James Stewart West, who founded the business that became J.S. West & Cos. It originally provided grain and coal and evolved into the egg, feed and propane operations it is today. West served as president of the Pacific Egg and Poultry Association and chairman of the American Egg Board.

Bill Brown

Bill Brown served a large constituency both in his role as a University of Delaware poultry extension agent and as a Delmarva Poultry Industry board member.

John Lloyd

John Lloyd formed the company John Lloyd Poultry, which became a well-known supplier of a wide range of poultry to small producers in England. Lloyd was a longtime council member of British Goose Producers.

Chet Hobart

Serving in various capacities during a 42-year career with Cobb-Vantress, Chet Hobart played played a significant role in developing the global market for Cobb broiler breeding stock in his 42-year career with Cobb-Vantress. Among his leadership roles with the company was a stint as vice president of International Business.

Allene Johnson

Allene Johnson’s work with The Poultry Federation benefitted the poultry industry in Arkansas and bordering states for 46 years. She was The Poultry Federation’s lab director.

Marvin Johnson

The founder of House of Raeford Farms, Marvin Johnson grew the company from a modest family farm to one of the ten largest broiler chicken companies in the United States. He is also credited with paving the way for turkey to become a marketable product throughout the year rather than just during the holidays. House of Raeford was the first to process turkeys year-round, and invented the retail deli turkey breast and whole cooked turkey, among many other products.  Johnson served as president of the National Turkey Federation, North Carolina Poultry Federation, and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, and was inducted into the North Carolina Poultry Hall of Fame in 1996. 

Donald Mahan

Swine nutritionist Donald Mahan was well known globally for his selenium and vitamin E research, but also was recognized for his research in other areas. His multi-parity sow research studies demonstrated sows' requirement for calcium and phosphorus and that organic selenium resulted in more pigs, healthier pigs, fewer sow parturition problems and greater milk selenium for multiple parities.

Phil Keiser

The CEO of restaurant chain Culver’s, Phil Keiser made sure that farmers were thanked and recognized for raising the food served at the restaurant. He recently encouraged members of the Animal Agriculture Alliance to reach out to other restaurant chain executives to tell agriculture’s story, before animal rights activists did.

Vance Larson

Vance Larson was a national leader in the turkey industry. He served in leadership roles within the National Turkey Federation, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association and Midwest Poultry Federation. Larson received the NTF Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. In addition to raising turkeys, Larson was involved in raising hogs and operating the Sargeant Grain Company.

Dwayne Andreas

Dwayne Andreas was an active spokesman for agriculture and led Archer Daniels Midland Co. as its chairman from 1970 to 1999. Andreas met with every American president from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton. He was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to the American Food for Peace Council. Later, President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the Task Force on International Private Enterprise.

Margaret Cannella

Margaret M. Cannella served as a director for AdvancePierre Foods since 2008. She helped guide the company through recapitalizations, acquisitions and an initial public offering.

Bob Galbraith

Bob Galbraith founded Ralco and ran the company for 19 years. He built the company on the vision of improving the health and performance of livestock as naturally as possible.

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