The Pork Checkoff Selected Leadership Program Participants

Monday, Jun 01, 2009 – Twenty U.S. pork producers were selected to participate in Pork Leadership Academy (PLA), a program sponsored by the Pork Checkoff, which is used to identify and train swine industry leaders.

“Through the Pork Leadership Academy program, the Checkoff is helping build new leaders who will work with both consumers and other producers,” said Bill Kessler, chair of the Pork Checkoff Producer and State Relations Committee and PLA graduate from Mexico, Mo.

PLA participants were chosen by their individual states and represent different production styles. The Checkoff provides initial leadership training, as well as long-term support for preparing presentations and interviews to the media or people in their community. Pork Leadership Academy focuses on training producers to be spokespeople who can relay accomplishments of the pork industry to the public. PLA also teaches producers how to communicate one-on-one with other producers about issues facing the pork industry.

During their first meeting, PLA participants will receive Pork Quality Assurance Plus® (PQA Plus®) training. The PQA Plus program provides pork producers with information on production practices that uphold consumer expectations regarding food safety and animal care. The participants will also learn how to be better prepared for a crisis on their farms.

2009 Pork Leadership Academy participants include:

Fitzhugh Bethea, S.C.
Chris Britton, Ala.
Dereke Dunkirk, Ill.
Mark Ebaugh, Pa.
Todd Erickson, N.D.
Devin Gandy, La.
Tommy Goodwin, Idaho
Bradley Hohn, S.D.
Aaron Kavan, Neb.
Lee Letsch, Ore.
Todd Marotz, Minn.
Brady Otto, Calif.
Derrick Sleezer, Iowa
Tim Steinkamp, Mo.
Scot Strauss, Wis.
Jim Webb, Utah
Neill Westerbeek, N.C.
Andy White, Mich.
Chuck Wildman, Ohio
Mark York, Ind.

These producers will attend five Pork Leadership Academy meetings throughout the year. Each meeting will focus on a different swine related issue, and will include a Checkoff program update.

Note to media:  Pork producers are available to interview about this story.  To arrange for an interview, please contact Cindy Cunningham, assistant vice president of communications at the National Pork Board, at (515) 223-2600.

The National Pork Board has responsibility for Pork Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in consumer education and marketing, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, science and technology, swine health, pork safety, and environmental management and sustainability. For the past half century, the U.S. pork industry has delivered on its commitment to sustainable production and has made significant strides in reducing the environmental impact of pig farming. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula. For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675 or visit