The National Pork Board elected three new officers Tuesday during the board's meeting prior to the World Pork Expo, which will be held June 6-8 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Conley Nelson, a farmer and pork production executive from Algona, Iowa, was elected president of the 15-member board. Nelson, who had been the board's vice president, owns a 4,400-head wean-to-finish operation on a farm that has been in his family for 121 years. He also is general manager of the Murphy-Brown LLC Midwest operation that oversees 75,000 sows and markets 3.4 million hogs a year.
Nelson succeeds Everett Forkner, a farmer from Richards, Mo., who will remain on the board's Executive Committee as immediate past president.
National Pork Board members also elected Karen Richter, a pork producer from Montgomery, Minn., vice president, and Dale Norton, a pork producer from Bronson, Mich., treasurer. All three will serve one-year terms beginning immediately.
Nelson said he hopes to draw on his experience as a smaller producer and as a production manager for one of the nation's largest production companies to help the board guide pork producers through some of the tough challenges facing the pork industry. "Our strategic plan is dedicated to preserving the ability of producers to make decisions about what works best for their farms and their animals," he said. "We're seeing an increasing number of examples where those outside production agriculture are trying to dictate how we care for our animals. As pork producers we must stay unified. I will work to assure that all producers, regardless of the size of their operation or their production style, have a voice in these decisions."
"It's also important," he said, "to continue to build trust with our customers and with consumers by demonstrating our commitment to continuous improvement. We have both a great product and a great story to tell about how we are producing more pork for a hungry world using fewer natural resources. We can't lose sight of the importance of telling our success stories."
Nelson is in his second, three-year term on the National Pork Board. He serves on the Checkoff's Domestic Marketing Committee, Trade Committee and Budget Committee. He has served on the Animal Welfare and Audit Committees and is a 2005 graduate of the Pork Leadership Academy. He also has served on the Iowa Pork Producers board of directors, and is a member of the Kossuth County Pork Producers and the Humboldt County Farm Bureau.
Richter, who has been the board's treasurer the past year, operates a farrow-to-finish operation with 185 sows and markets 3,300 hogs per year, while raising corn, soybeans and wheat on 650 acres. Nationally, she serves on the Pork Checkoff Trade Committee and is an Operation Main Street presenter. She also has served on the Checkoff Nominating Committee, the Plan of Work Task Force and as a Pork Act Delegate. Richter served on the Minnesota Pork Board executive board and numerous committees. Locally, she is active in the Le Sueur County Pork Producers. She has held several offices including state director, treasurer and vice president and has chaired several committees including ambassador, scholarship and membership.
Norton is a partner in Kendale Farm, a farrow-to-wean operation with 1,450 sows and a farrow-to-finish operation that markets 31,500 annually. He also is involved with a cow-calf operation and raises corn, soybeans, hay, canning tomatoes, peppers for processing and seed corn on over 3,000 acres.
Nationally, Norton serves as the Pork Checkoff's representative on the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) and is the treasurer on the Executive Committee. He also serves on the National Pork Board's Domestic Marketing and Finance Committees. He is past chair of the Animal Welfare Committee and has served on the Pork Board's Administrative and its Resolutions/Advisements Committees.
Norton is a board member and past-president of the Michigan Pork Producers. He was chair of the Michigan Swine Health Committee and a founding member of the Great Lakes Pork Co-Op. He was appointed to the Michigan Ag Commission in 2005 and is a member of the Michigan Farm Bureau.
The National Pork Board has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest 40 cents for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health, pork safety and environmental management. For information on Checkoff-funded programs, visit www.pork.org.