A century-old family business in Warren County, Iowa, earned the 2020 Master Seedstock Producer Award for the current patriarch. Rod Fee of Ackworth, who runs Fee Farms Show Pigs with his son, Eric, was presented the 2020 Master Seedstock Award by the Iowa Purebred Swine Council during the Iowa Pork Congress awards banquet held in Des Moines.
The award recognizes outstanding seedstock producers who exemplify integrity, leadership and success in the production and promotion of the purebred swine industry. Fee says his family developed the business from a small spotted pig that was given to his parents as a wedding gift in 1919. From that point, the family business sold many pigs around the country and the world.
"Studying the genetics and pedigree and phenotypic characteristics, and trying to put those together for the next best generation, is a huge challenge and certainly not an easy one," Fee says.
A pig from Fee Farms Show Pigs was the Spotted Swine Hog College Row representative at the 2019 National Barrow Show in Austin, Minn. He was just one of 12 litter mates that were sold be the Fees as show pigs, and 11 won trophies or banners in show rings around the country.
Fee actively pushed for improving meat and meat quality from pigs in the 1970s. During that time, a 3.5-inch loin eye was standard, and he qualified one litter that produced 7.11-inch loin eyes.
Fee served in many rolls, including a term as the vice president of the National Spotted Record Association. In 2020, the National Spotted Swine Board presented him with a Hall of Fame award for his lifetime of work.
The Iowa Purebred Swine Council has sponsored the Master Seedstock Award since 1958 and has selected one Master Seedstock Award recipient each year since. Its purpose is to recognize significant contributions to the Iowa and national purebred industries and for evidence of genetic improvements within their selected breeds for the benefit of Iowa, the nation and, in many cases, internationally.
Center earns President's Award
In other pork industry news , the Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University has been presented with the Iowa Pork Producers Association's first President's Award. The award recognizes all employees at IPIC for their work and dedication to helping Iowa's pig farmers manage through so many extraordinary challenges to the industry in 2020.
When pork processing plants closed or slowed down from March through May 2020, many Iowa farmers were faced with decisions on how to continue caring for pigs that were ready to enter the food chain. The solutions lay in many areas of expertise.
"The team that works for IPIC assisted us with economic analysis, nutritional changes to slow hog growth when we had a breakdown in the food supply chain, suggestions for animal care during those times when farmers had to hold pigs longer than expected, while employees even provided information and resources outside of the pork industry," says Mike Paustian of Walcott, Iowa Pork Producers Association past president.
Those other services included the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory providing expertise to the University of Iowa to increase the numbers of COVID-19 tests that could be run daily. The VDL had established procedures nearly a decade before to process substantially more tests of that type in a limited time period.
"The truly remarkable thing is how fast this team reacted to all the challenges," Paustian says. "Universities are not typically noted for speed, but IPIC responded to our needs and requests faster than ISU can score touchdowns!"
IPPA recognized that there were many Iowa people, businesses and organizations that stepped up in 2020 to help Iowa pig farmers address challenges and mitigate especially negative circumstances. "Our board of directors supported the creation of this special IPPA President's Award to recognize IPIC for their work," Paustian says.
Master producers, partners
At the 2021 Iowa Pork Congress banquet, IPPA introduced the 2020 class of Master Pork Producers and Master Pork Partners.
A Master Pork Producer award denotes an individual's or family's excellence in pork production, as measured by their pork production statistics, their commitment to We Care principles, and their contribution to their community. There are six We Care principles that outline a pig farmer's responsibilities to uphold high standards for animal well-being, food safety, the environment, as well as support of their local community.
IPPA's 79th class of Master Pork Producers includes six pig farmers. They are:
- Ryan Baragary, Masonville, Buchanan County
- Mike Bravard and Lucas Bravard, Jefferson, Greene County
- Mike and Tracy Marshall, Lewis, Cass County
- Shane Sylvester, Elkader, Clayton County
IPPA started the Master Pork Producer Award program in 1942 and has now named 1,496 Iowa pig farming businesses as Master Pork Producers.
IPPA created the Master Pork Partner Award in 2014 to recognize outstanding production partners who have made positive impacts in Iowa pork production, even though they don't have active daily roles at a specific production site.
The 2020 Master Pork Partners are:
- Aron Nieland, Newell, a senior production manager of logistics for The Maschhoffs
- Steven Nelson of Clear Lake, a trucker for Christensen Farms
The 2020 Honorary Master Pork Producer is Tom Miller, Winfield. Miller served as the ISU extension swine specialist in southeast Iowa for over 20 years before retiring in May 2020. Pig farmers in the area saw Miller at a 'go to' resource who provided ready advice and information.
All award winners are nominated by their peers and neighbors, and represent the diversity of Iowa's pig farms. This production diversity helps maintain the strength of the industry and enables Iowa producers to compete successfully in the domestic and international commodity and niche markets.
IPPA and ISU Extension co-sponsor the Master Pork Producer program to demonstrate the character and breadth of Iowa pork production. Nominations for the 2021 Master Pork Program awards will open in May.Source: Iowa Pork Producers Association, which is responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and its subsidiaries aren't responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.