Robin Ganzert has a confession. “I absolutely love pigs,” says Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, America’s oldest national humane organization. “Any chance I get to be around pigs and the people who raise them right just tickles me pink.”

That’s why judging the annual America’s Pig Farmer of the Year contest is one of the most rewarding, important and fun highlights of the year for Ganzert, who shared these insights with the Pork Checkoff Report.

What motivates you to be part of the America’s Pig Farmer of the Year program?

It goes back to the roots of American Humane, which was founded in 1877 around the issue of farm animal welfare. In the 140 years since, we’ve been working with farmers and ranchers to improve the treatment of animals in agriculture and celebrate those who put food on our nation’s tables and raise their animals right.

To help verify good practices for all involved, American Humane created the nation’s first, largest and most trusted independent, third-party farm animal welfare program – the American Humane Certified™ program. When shoppers see the American Humane Certified seal on a product, they know the animals were raised under ethical, science-based standards.

“Farming has never been more in focus for today’s retail consumers. They do not just expect food producers to be ethical and sustainable, they demand it.”
– Walmart’s Brittni Furrow

What has impressed you about the winners?

The winners, along with the finalists, impress me with their dedication and commitment to the humane treatment of their animals. For them, pig farming isn’t just a livelihood, but a way of life in which a tradition of respect and caring for animals is so important.

What value does the program offer the pork industry?

It’s important to highlight the efforts of farmers who focus on providing the best care possible for their pigs, not only to reward those who do, but to encourage others to aspire to a level of meaningful care that will make a difference and create a more humane world.

Why is it important for America’s pig farmers to share how they raise food?

Today, more Americans are interested in where their food comes from and how it’s raised. In a national survey conducted by American Humane, 94.9 percent said they were very concerned about farm animal welfare, and 75.7 percent said that they were very willing to pay more for humanely raised meat, dairy and eggs. When asked to rank the importance of labels, the “humanely raised” label ranked highest in importance over antibiotic-free, organic and natural.

Farmers who treat their animals with a high degree of care must take the extra step of communicating with a public that increasingly chooses to make purchases in line with its values.