Keith Schoettmer goes about his business, raising pigs and promoting agriculture on his Tipton farm. Being good at what he does and taking time to share his story with consumers and others in his community recently earned him a prestigious award that had never been presented before. And it was a national award to boot!
Schoettmer is recipient of the first ever America's Pig Farmer of the Year award, chosen and presented by the National Pork Board.
The idea behind the new award is recognizing a pig farmer who excels at raising pigs using the We Care ethical principles guide. The farmer must also know how to connect with today's consumers and be able to explain how and why they produce pork in the way they do.
Schoettmer Prime Pork was founded by Keith and his wife, Darla, in 1987. They raise about 22,000 pigs annually and hire several full-time employees. One of the driving forces in their decision-making over the years is keeping community values in mind as they move forward.
"I'm honored to receive this award from the National Pork Board," Keith said in an interview after receiving the award. "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 our farm to care for our pigs, our people and our planet."
The selection process for this award involved subjecting to a third-party audit of on-farm practices. Obviously, his operation passed the audit. He also went through a series of written and oral interviews conducted by experts in different subjects relating to raising hogs in an ethical way.
Four finalists were interviewed by a panel of people you wouldn't necessarily associate with agriculture. They included someone from the American Humane Association, the World Wildlife Fund, a nationally recognized dietician and wellness expert, a nationally known Iowa State professor and youth advisor and even Chris Soules, the Arlington, Iowa, farmer and TV star from The Bachelor and Dancing with the Stars.
Learn more about the award at porkcares.org.