McAlisterville, Pennsylvania farmer Chris Hoffman is America’s Pig Farmer of the Year. This first-generation pig farmer will represent the pork industry over the next year, meeting with the media, consumers and retailers. In this edition of Pork Pod, Hoffman outlines the America’s Pig Farmer of the Year and his background in the industry.
Chris Hoffman, America's Pig Farmer of the Year, National Pork Board
Don Wick: 00:00 From the Pork Checkoff in Des Moines, Iowa, it’s Pork Pod. Pork Pod, a look at the hot topics in today’s pork industry. The Pork Checkoff is working for you through various forms of research, promotion, and consumer information projects. I’m Don Wick speaking on behalf of the Pork Checkoff, and today our guest is Chris Hoffman, a pig farmer from Mc Alisterville, Pennsylvania, who has been named the 2019 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year, an annual honor put out by the National Pork Board. Chris, quite an accomplishment. Tell us really what this recognition means.
Chris Hoffman: 00:33 Well, I am humbled and honored to have been given this award as America’s Pig Farmer of the Year. It’s not something that starting out as a first generation pig farmer you ever think about or dream about the possibilities of where we’re at today. And I’m excited about the year, this next year, as we move forward and really just trying to get the message out about what we do on our farms and, and try to interact with consumers and farmers and being able to tell our story.
Don Wick: 01:09 A first generation farmer! Tell me a little bit more about your background, would ya?
Chris Hoffman: 01:14 Well, you know, I came out of high school thinking that I wanted to be in law enforcement, wanted to be a federal marshal and because I couldn’t carry a gun at a young age, I started working for a feed company raising pigs. And within a year I was actually managing an 850 sow farm. And within four years I said, wow, I think I could do this on my own. And went out and bought a farm and partnered up with a guy that owned pigs. And here we are today, we’re 1400 sows, we’re independent and selling pigs to Leidy’s.
Don Wick: 01:53 So we always talk about the importance of telling our story. What’s the message that you want to be emphasizing during this year as America’s Pig Farmer of the Year?
Chris Hoffman: 02:04 Well, I think our consumer is really far away from where their food comes from. And that education is really, really important to me. And so from the perspective of me being able to interact with consumers and retailers and then even getting other farmers to step up and be a part of this storytelling I think is really, really good. And so that’s my main goal is to talk about where our food is at down on our farm, how we raise it, how we take care of our animals and just try to answer the questions consumers have.
Don Wick: 02:43 You talked about how we take care of our animals. It does seem consumers care on that whole part of the industry, how we care for our livestock. Tell me a little bit about the Pork Checkoff itself and that whole message of We Care and the ethical treatment of animals.
Chris Hoffman: 03:06 Well, I think that it’s hard sometimes for the consumer to really kind of understand, you know, what happens on the farm. But, and I try to explain to the consumer that, you know, we take care of our animals, just like you would take care of your pets. And that, you know, we have, you know, we actually have a veterinarian that comes out to the farm and we work with him and we try to make sure that, you know, we’re making sure that our animals are cared for and taken to the best ability we can from that side of it. And so, you know, I try to get people to understand that’s really our focus, is making sure that the animals are the number one thing. Their care, their comfort. And again, its like part of the family.
Don Wick: 04:02 So just being announced with this honor, Chris, so what’s next? Where do we go from here?
Chris Hoffman: 04:10 Well, I’m not exactly sure where all we’re going, but I’m excited to get out there and try to talk about what we do on our farm and to really work at getting the message out about we do care about our pigs, we do care about our farm, we care about the consumer, and we also care about our community. And so we’re really, we’re excited about this opportunity. Again, I never would’ve thought we would’ve had this opportunity, but we’re here and so we’re gonna make the best of every day we possibly can of telling the story of pig farming,
Don Wick: 04:54 Chris Hoffman, America’s Pig Farmer of the Year. Thank you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself, visit pork.org.