South Dakota pig farmer Steve Rommereim is the new president of the 15-member National Pork Board. In this podcast, we learn more about Steve’s background and his goals for the year ahead for the Pork Checkoff.
Steve Rommereim, President, National Pork Board
Don Wick: 00:04 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 Steve Rommereim, a pork producer from Alcester, South Dakota, and the new President of the National Pork Board. Steve, let’s begin by way of introduction, tell us a bit more about yourself.
Steve Rommereim: 00:27 Sure. My name’s Steve Rommereim and I’m from Alcester, South Dakota, the very southeast part of the state. Been in the hog production for just about all my life. Bought my first house in 1972 as a 4-H project and been involved with it ever since. So this, of course, is just a wonderful opportunity for me to not only showcase what we do from the Checkoff standpoint, but just to work with all the wonderful producers in our nation.
Don Wick: 00:56 Well, let’s look to this year ahead. What kind of goals do you have? What kind of things are the 15 member board working on this year?
Steve Rommereim: 01:06 Well, my personal goals is to kind of keep, keep talking the talk when it comes to supporting the Checkoff. You know, the kind of returns that we’re getting right now, as far as a return on investment, for every dollar that a producer would spend at the Checkoff, he’s getting a 25 to one return and that’s pretty impressive. I can’t do that anywhere on my farm and my investments haven’t gone near that well. So, you know, to me that kind of a return needs to be talked about. So as a personal goal, that’s one of my main ones is to make sure everybody knows that their investment in us as being used well. And as far as our Board goes, there’s this ongoing mission of, of support in teaching, promotion and research. And we’re going to continue with all of those things head on.
Steve Rommereim: 01:50 I mean that’s, that’s just what we do and what we’re very, very good at. We’ve got a very incredible staff. From a Board perspective, you know, the really cool stuff that we’re working on and need to get released are all supporting the producers of our nation, like our Secure Pork Supply. And moving forward with a message about sustainability so that our customers and our consumers can develop more trust in what we do, in the product that we all create as pig farmers. So the Board throws itself at all of these issues and we try to do it in a responsible way that is incredibly effective because we’re spending other people’s money and that’s top of mind for our Board. And we, I just want to encourage everybody that, you know, we, we work awful hard to be responsible at this job.
Don Wick: 02:39 It’s those 15 members on the Board making that ultimate decision, but what always impressed me is it’s that grassroots producer that’s involved in committees, and that’s really surfacing these ideas, whether it’s on research or some of the promotion projects or some of those kind of things.
Steve Rommereim: 02:53 You Bet. I tell you what, it’d be pretty arrogant for anybody on our Board to think that we’re the final say on anything. Because, you know, A) it’s not our money and B) we really have to use this stuff effectively and wisely and do the things that we do that are pertinent to today. Our CEO Bill Even, one of his famous quotes is getting to be is “we have to move at the speed of business”. And I tell you what, that’s a hard thing to do. This world is changing very, very fast. So moving into that digital world, moving into new messaging that are going to affect, you know, different sectors of the population, the Millennials, the Gen Z’s. We’re not really very good at communicating with these folks because most of us have kids in that generation, but I guarantee most of them haven’t gotten figured out either.
Steve Rommereim: 03:41 So we’re developing new messaging. We’re getting to the point that we feel like we’re going to be very effective in those spaces. And the strategy moving forward, of course, is to get up to speed and to be able to communicate and know habits, desires, what people like, and then you can effectively market when it comes to the promotion side. And of course a great part of that is education. We have to develop that trust from those folks in our product. Nutritionally, flavor, the eating experience, all very, very important. And we keep, we keep pounding away at getting to where we need to be.
Don Wick: 04:19 Of course, if producers have any input, they can always contact any member of the Pork Board or contact the staff themselves.
Steve Rommereim: 04:24 Oh, you bet. You know, you go to pork.org, our bios, our phone numbers, everything. Where our intent is to be an open book. While part of the job is dealing with problems. I think everybody on our Board and all of our staff are into moving forward and dealing with problems as we go because it’s the pork industry, right? There isn’t a time when there’s not some crisis going on, at least in my memory. And I been at this thing for a long time. So you move from crisis to crisis, but you still got to keep the boat going and make sure that it’s a nimble boat, so it doesn’t take three and four years to turn the thing, right? So it’s really been in my mind, a very effective organization for many, many, many years.
Don Wick: 05:09 Thanks to you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself, visit pork.org.