Get ready – it’s time to vote for America’s Pig Farmer of the Year!

On Thursday, the Pork Checkoff announced the four finalists vying for the award, which recognizes one U.S. pig farmer each year who raising pigs using the We Care ethical principles and is committed to sharing his (or her) farming story with the public.

Last year’s winner was Keith Schoettmer, a pork producer from Tipton, Ind.

This year’s finalists include:

  • Craig Andersen: Andersen and his family market 6,000 pigs annually from their Century Farm in Centerville, S.D. In addition to pigs, the Anderson farm raises corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and cattle.  “I want to show consumers that we use responsible practices on our farm,” said Andersen. “Our family strives to be open and honest with consumers. We’re passionate about the pigs we raise and know that a big part of being farmers is educating others about what we do on our farm.”
  • Jarrod Bakker: The only Iowa producer to make the final cut, Bakker grew up on a farrow-to-finish farm and today co-owns Bakker Bros. Genetics near Dike, Iowa, with his brother and wife, marketing 1,000 pigs annually. Bakker also works for Fast Genetics.  “I would tell any consumer that we raise pigs with the utmost care,” said Bakker. “Our industry is filled with caregivers who would never compromise the safety of the animals we’re raising or the integrity of the food we’re producing.”
  • Brad Greenway: Based out of Mitchell, S.D., Greenway and his wife own two 2,400-head wean-to-finish pig farmers and are part-owners in a 4,000-head sow farm from which they source their pigs. His family also runs a cow-calf operation and raises corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa.  “Every day we work hard to do what’s right for our animals,” said Greenway. “I show consumers how we observe our pigs carefully, making sure they have feed, water and proper ventilation. We also work closely with our veterinarian if any of our pigs have a health issue.”
  • Maria Mauer: Mauer works at Smiley Brothers, Inc., a farrow-to-finish operation near Greensburg, Ind., that markets 18,000 pigs annually. She often brings her five-year-old son with her to teach him valuable, hands-on life lessons that can only be learned in the sow barn. “I love caring for animals,” Mauer said. “While I enjoy helping all the animals around me excel, I have a special passion for sows. I enjoy both the challenges and the rewards of pig farming.”

“The four finalists represent the diversity of the pork industry in the United States,” said National Pork Board President Jan Archer. “They exemplify the best in pig farming and in taking the lead on environmental sustainability, animal welfare and continuous improvement.

The public can vote once per day per person per email address for their favorite finalist at www.AmericasPigFarmer.com through Sept. 10.

The winner will be announced in the midst of National Pork Month on Oct. 11. 

What are you waiting for? Cast your vote!