Thursday, Jul 23, 2009 – Tim Bierman, a farmer from Larrabee, Iowa, has been elected by his fellow board members as president of the National Pork Board. Dr. Gene Nemechek, a veterinarian with Tyson Foods in Springdale, Ark., has been elected vice president. Both begin immediately to serve one-year terms.
Bierman, who had been the board’s vice president, has a long history of service to the U.S pork industry through his work on the Iowa Pork Producers Association board and as a two-term member of the National Pork Board. He serves on the National Pork Board’s Trade Committee and has become knowledgeable about the international trade issues facing the U.S. pork industry. He also has served on the national organization’s animal well-being, domestic marketing and budget committees and has held a number of other state and national pork industry positions.
“Pork producers know this is one of the most challenging periods our industry has ever faced,” Bierman said. “It began almost two years ago with the sudden and dramatic increase in our input costs because of higher corn and soybean prices. And now with the H1N1 flu, we’re experiencing lower prices for our pigs because of the way some countries and some consumers have misconstrued the role of swine in the global pandemic.
“At the same time,” Bierman said, “I am optimistic because I believe the National Pork Board, through the Pork Checkoff, is well positioned to help producers work through the current challenges. We continue to assure consumers and our trading partners that pork is safe to eat. We have new research from the National Animal Disease Center that proves what we already knew: That even when pigs get sick from the flu, that they recover and return to normal and that there are no traces of flu virus in the meat. We continue to market pork products aggressively at home and abroad. And we continue to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with the National Pork Producers Council, with swine veterinarians and others to assure that producers have the information they need in these challenging times.
“I’m also optimistic about the progress our industry is making through the We Care initiative to demonstrate to all of our customers that U.S. pork producers are ethically and scientifically committed to delivering high-quality pork products that are safe, nutritious and affordable. I will continue to encourage producers to become certified in our industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus® program and to have their sites assessed so we can continuously improve our animal handling practices. I will be urging producers to get involved in their communities and to help young and old consumers alike understand what it’s like to farm in the 21st century. I’m looking forward to a good year.”
Bierman and his wife, Mary, raise 15,000 hogs annually on their diversified farm in northwest Iowa. He succeeds Steve Weaver, a California pork producer as president. Weaver has one year remaining on his second three-year term on the board.
Bierman and Nemechek were elected during the board’s summer meeting, held in conjunction with the annual Pork Industry Conference at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. The board focused primarily on budgets, both the 2009 budget and the planning for 2010. Because of unanticipated expenses related to the industry’s response to the H1N1 flu outbreak this spring, the board accepted its staff’s recommendation to trim approximately $4.2 million from the budget year that ends Dec. 31. The board noted, though, that their decision will not affect a new proposal to spend an additional $1 million on pork promotion this fall.
The board also set a $46.8 million target for the 2010 budget year beginning Jan. 1. That target compares to a $58.5 million budget for 2009. Because of lower hog prices, Checkoff revenues are expected to be lower in 2010.