By Jan Jorgensen

The National Pork Board recently announced the four finalists who are vying to be named the 2018 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year®. The program honors a U.S. pig farmer each year who excels at raising pigs following the We CareSM ethical principles and who is committed to sharing their farming story with the American public.

The finalists recently met with an expert panel of third-party judges in Chicago. The judges viewed videos from the producers’ farms and interviewed each of them. The winner will be announced the week of Oct. 1 based on the judges’ scores and the online voting.

How does what you do on your farms every day relate to consumers asking about the food they eat ?

Pat Bane – Arrowsmith, Illinois

“There’s a lot of mystery about raising pigs because so many people today don’t even know a farmer. I’ve worked hard the last three decades to share how we raise pigs. The public needs to know that we’re doing the right things to care for our animals and to keep them healthy. Fostering a better understanding is not only good for us as farmers, but it’s good for consumers. You can’t drive that point home enough. I think we have a lot of good, positive messages to tell.”

Bill Luckey – Columbus, Nebraska

“Raising pigs has been a major part of my life since I was 16, and now my sons are getting involved in the family farm. We focus on producing safe, high-quality pork, but that’s only part of the equation. We can’t just stay on our farms in a bubble. People want to know where their food comes from, and that’s great. It should be those of us who are with our animals everyday who answer their questions.”

Brad Lundell – Kiron, Iowa

“I work alongside wife Sarah, our three sons and daughter, and with two part-time employees. We love being great caretakers for our animals. Growing up on a small farrow-to-finish farm, I admired the pride that my dad had for caring for the pigs. To be able to care for an animal from birth to market was always something I wanted to do. We take a lot of pride in doing it and in sharing our story with the public.”

Kevin Rasmussen – Goldfield, Iowa

“Successfully raising pigs today takes getting a lot of things right, but having the right team is critical. When I decided to have employees, my No. 1 goal was to be a good employer. I thought if I could be a good employer to my employees and treat them well, they would do the same to me and to the pigs in their care. Consumers appreciate that pig farmers are doing what’s best for people, pigs and the planet.”