Keith Schoettmer, a pork producer and PigCHAMP customer from Tipton, Indiana has been named the first "America's Pig Farmer of the YearSM". In its first year, the program seeks to recognize a producer who "who excels at raising pigs using the We CareSM ethical principles and connects with today’s consumers about how pork is produced."
Keith faced stiff competition from 3 other finalists, who were selected from a pool of applicants after a rigorous process that included an on-farm audit of farm practices, video submissions and interviews. After a national public vote, he was named as winner on October 7.
A first generation farmer, Keith began his career in the pork industry as a student in college. In 1987, together with his wife, Darla, he started Schoettmer Prime Pork in Indiana. They produce 22,000 market hogs a year on their 87-acre farm with the help of a dedicated team of staff.
His commitment to his staff and creating a positive workplace is evident. “It’s important for employees to have the experience and training necessary to handle animals appropriately,” Keith said. “Experience is the best trainer, so we take time to show and explain farm practices to new employees, with seasoned employees showing them the ropes.”
Keith also provides a strong voice in educating consumers about how pigs are raised. He is happy to open his farm to visitors, while keeping biosecurity in mind. "Consumers need to know that pig farmers are the ultimate animal welfare professionals."
Among the judges for the program was reality TV star and Iowa pork producer Chris Soules, who toured Keith's farm with him after his win. The resulting video gives consumers a chance to see how pork is produced from right inside the barn. Over the next year, Keith will be working hard to continue to promote the pork industry.
It's no surprise that America's Pig Farmer of the Year uses PigCHAMP software on his farm -- for more than 25 years, PigCHAMP has been the most trusted name in swine management software. Schoettmer Prime Pork is a long-time customer of PigCHAMP through Rensselaer Swine Services, one of several PigCHAMP agents who sell and support PigCHAMP products in the USA and globally.
Dr. Thomas G. Gillespie from Rensselaer Swine Services was delighted to hear of Keith's win. “It has been a pleasure being Keith’s vet. He does an amazing job overseeing the welfare of his animals. He is a great example and deserves the honor of being chosen as Pig Farmer of the Year.”
On behalf of the PigCHAMP team and our colleagues at Rensselaer Swine Service, congratulations to Keith and his team at Schoettmer Prime Pork!
Do you have what it takes to be the next America's Pig Farmer of the YearSM? Nomination open in January 2016. Visit www.americaspigfarmer.com or follow @realpigfarming on twitter to find out more.