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Lukas Fricke, Nebraska

Based in Ulysses, Nebraska, Lukas Fricke’s feeder-to-finish operation, Union Farms, markets 15,000 pigs annually. The farm also has 2,000 acres of corn, soybean, sorghum and seed corn. Fricke has been involved in the Nebraska Pork Producer Mentorship Program (2013-2014) and held the social media intern position for Nebraska Pork Producers Association (2016-2019). Throughout 2020 and 2021, he participated in National Pork Board working groups and task forces that develop the industry’s sustainability framework. Other active involvements include the alumni board of directors for the Engler Agribusiness and Entrepreneurship Program and the Producer’s Circle for the EcoSystem Marketplace Consortium.

Steve Brier, Missouri

Based in Nevada, Missouri, Steve Brier is a production director for the Midwest Operation of Smithfield Hog Production. He oversees 18 contract sow farms, totaling 68,000 sows, and associated contract multiplication nurseries and finishers, marketing 1.5 million hogs. Brier has been actively involved in the pork industry, including Operation Main Street, Vernon County Pork Producers (1985-1995), Missouri Pork Association Board (2002-2008, 2019-present), the National Pork Board’s Swine Health Committee (2014-2018) and the African Swine Fever Working Group (2019-2021). Brier is also a board member for the Osage Prairie YMCA and the Council on Families in Crisis. He also serves as a council member for his church.

Alan Eck, Maryland

Biography

Alan Eck is a first-generation wean-to-finish, heritage breed pork producer from Henderson, Maryland. He markets 1,800 head each year. His farm includes 430 acres of corn, wheat, barley and soybeans, along with hay and straw. Eck also volunteers with 4-H, his church, the Young Farmers Program and LEAD Maryland, which is dedicated to identifying and developing leadership to serve agriculture, natural resources and rural communities.

Nominating Committee Comments

Industry Knowledge

Alan Eck has a diverse agricultural background with experience raising multiple livestock species and crops. He demonstrates his passion with animal wellbeing practices, and understands customers want to know they share values with those who produce their food.

We Care®

Eck believes the most important We Care® ethical principle is animal well-being, and the most challenging is people. He likes to share with the public his understanding of and commitment to the best animal husbandry skills as they align with the ethical principles.

Leadership

Eck has leadership experience from his local 4-H group. One member of the nominating committee says he can think on his feet and is able to redirect conversations if needed. In conflict, his natural reaction is to consider the evidence of all perspectives before responding.

Communication

When prompted with a question Eck seeks to understand fully before answering or deciding. He wants to consider the history of the situation, if appropriate, define variables and write out responses. He is honest when he doesn’t know answers but comes prepared with questions and will do his homework on unknown topics.

Attitude, Passion and Commitment

Eck believes the pork industry and the National Pork Board are ready to blaze trails to better the industry. He is excited to talk about his operation and to make connections with producers from neighboring states. He says there is no end to the work and opportunities, and he is thankful consumers have food choices.

Joe Weber, Virginia

Biography

Based in Suffolk, Virginia, Joe Weber supports business development objectives for Smithfield Foods. As a leading producer and processor, Smithfield Foods markets 19 million pigs with its nearly 940,000 sows. Within the industry, Weber served on the Virginia Pork Council (2004-2012), volunteered with National Pork Board’s (NPB) Strategic Planning Committee (2019) and was on NPB’s Trade Committee (2010-2013). Additionally, he has collaborated with North American Meat Institute on its USDA Mandatory Price Reporting Pork Development Committee and with National Pork Producers Council on its Packer Processor Committee.

Nominating Committee Comments

Industry Knowledge

Joe Weber has years of experience within the industry, participating in task forces and committees on the state and national level. While he doesn’t work directly with pigs in his current role, his understanding of business management, customers and supply chain is an asset. He is knowledgeable about international and domestic marketing.

We Care®

Weber believes We Care® is the cornerstone for producing pork. He understands how these factors can promote a producers’ freedom to operate and knows that customers and consumers are asking about these commitments. He believes that the high Pork Quality Assurance Plus® and Transport Quality Assurance® standards producers have established resonate with consumers, and that the common swine industry audit is the next step in that proof.

Leadership

Weber’s leadership involves extensive collaboration and problem solving with executive and business-orientated individuals. On the local level, he has served on the Virginia Pork Council. He believes it takes skills of all kinds to develop a team. He seeks to champion smaller producers in Virginia to improve trust and image for customers.

Communication

Weber ensures his communication style is clear, concise and transparent, and listens intently to others. He is in tune with industry initiatives and believes all producers should have access to innovative and efficient technology for their operations. Communication about these resources could come from NPB.

Attitude, Passion and Commitment

Weber wants to be in front of the next challenge for the industry, and in tune with industry perspectives. Pork has “gotten in his blood” with his passion and drive to elevate producer priorities. He enjoys the dynamics of commodity organizations. He likes a fast-paced life, and he seeks to be a problem-solver on behalf of nationwide producers.

Alayne Johnson, Indiana

Biography

Alayne Johnson is a part-owner of Shady Grove Farms, a fourth-generation family business operated by her husband and five of his family members. The family has been raising hogs in northeastern Indiana since 1940, and now runs a 1,000-sow, farrow-to-finish hog and integrated crop operation. They market around 25,000 hogs each year and grow approximately 5,800 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat. She has been involved in Pork Leadership Institute and currently serves as county president for the Indiana Farm Bureau, as well as being a member of Indiana Farm Bureau’s resolutions committee for 2022. She is also active in her local church.

Nominating Committee Comments

Industry Knowledge

Alayne Johnson is involved on her family farm. She has participated in the industry’s Pork Leadership Institute program, which is jointly funded by National Pork Producers Council and National Pork Board. This comprehensive, year-long program consists of five learning sessions designed to develop future leaders and spokespeople for the pork industry.

We Care®

Through her strong personal advocacy for her farm, Johnson shares with local authorities how her farm meets each of the We Care® Ethical Principles, while addressing the true concerns facing her family and the industry. In addition, she takes the “People” principle to heart as the farm hires and trains local community members.

Leadership

When Johnson sees a problem, she wants to solve it and gain stakeholder trust. She monitors local government regulations and nourishes relationships to maintain a positive image. She educated local leaders on data-driven agriculture practices to assist in redrafting local zoning laws.

Communication

Her advocacy approach with community members and county commissioners emphasizes the environmental stewardship practices on her farm, including utilizing variable rate technology to maximize the use of nutrients. She converses genuinely and respectfully with consumers.

Attitude, Passion and Commitment

Doing what’s right for continuity of business and building consumer trust is her driving motivation. She knows there are tools available for producers, and she wants to maintain those resources for future generations.

Bill Luckey, Nebraska

Biography

Bill Luckey, a fourth-generation farmer, contracts 3,300 finishing spaces and a 500-head nursery in Columbus, Nebraska. Along with raising cattle, he grows corn and soybeans on 700 acres. Bill is currently serving on the National Pork Board (NPB) and is an Operation Main Street speaker. He has been active and served in leadership positions on numerous committees, served on the National Pork Producers Council Board of Directors (2008-2014) and was on the Nebraska Pork Producers Association Board of Directors (2001-2007, president 2006). He is a past director of Nebraska Rural Radio Association (2009-2018).

Nominating Committee Comments

Industry Knowledge

Bill Luckey understands the priorities of NPB and Checkoff funds. He believes the industry will focus on foreign animal disease preparedness with Secure Pork Supply and tools such as AgView. In addition, the industry will focus on diversifying export markets and having producer involvement in state and national programming.

We Care®

Luckey practices the We Care® ethical principles each day on his own farm. Off the farm, he seeks to help his peers understand Pork Checkoff and its initiatives. When speaking to groups or during interviews, he is truthful and gives examples to help listeners understand common production practices.

Leadership

Luckey is clearly committed to agricultural leadership. He has demonstrated this leadership with his diverse range of experience and expertise, serving on several committees, task forces and volunteer positions within NPB, including the past three years on the board of directors.

Communication

Luckey uses every opportunity to speak on behalf of the industry, and he is known for using easy-to-understand language. His body language and responses encourage audiences to ask questions, which he uses to build rapport. Luckey often puts his own opinions aside to better serve the industry. For example, within discussions or meetings, he listens well and seeks to understand by asking questions and hearing all sides of the topic.

Attitude, Passion and Commitment

Luckey is excited about the future of the industry and how younger generations can be involved behind barn doors or beyond the farm in specialized industry segments, such as marketing or supply chain areas, among other opportunities. His reward for his time spent helping the industry is the camaraderie he gains with fellow producers.

Chad Groves, Kansas

Biography

Based in Shawnee, Kansas, Chad Groves is the senior vice president of sales and marketing for Seaboard Foods, an integrated processor marketing 7.2 million hogs annually from its 330,000 sows. Seaboard Foods markets and sells pork for Triumph Foods and Seaboard Triumph Foods. Groves uses change leadership and transparency when working with over 80 employees.

Nominating Committee Comments

Industry Knowledge

Chad Groves believes center of the plate is king and has a diverse background in sales, marketing and business for food, including pork. In his current role with Seaboard Foods, he leads a team to market a premium product to their customers.

We Care®

Groves wants to use the We Care® Ethical Principles to build public trust in the supply chain. He wants to share how Seaboard Foods is reducing its carbon footprint by capturing methane. He exemplifies how the employees are faces of the business, and their communities are the places they care for through donations and volunteer hours.

Leadership

Groves has used leadership in many roles in his career and has led teams through tough decisions. He aligns the focus and variables of his teams, even if they are split internally, to collaboratively produce a meaningful outcome. He has led his teams in the sometimes-challenging aftermath of decisions.

Communication

Groves started his leadership role with Seaboard Foods in July 2021, which means he transitioned, onboarded, became acquainted with colleagues and propelled change in the sales department in a short time. He is professional, confident and well-spoken about the industry.

Attitude, Passion and Commitment

Pork producers pay into Pork Checkoff, and Groves wants to ensure all producers, including Seaboard Foods, receive a return on that investment. To do this, he meets with NPB staff to connect on industry trends to better Seaboard Foods’ business initiatives.

Daniel Tubbs, Alabama

Biography

Daniel Tubbs is a niche producer from Oakman, Alabama, marketing 300 pigs per year. His farm also produces 500 acres of hay and raises cattle and feeder calves. He has been involved in the Alabama Pork Producers Association since 2016, holding the chairman position since 2019. Tubbs also participated in the Alabama Farmers Federation Leadership Program (2016-2018).

Nominating Committee Comments

Industry Knowledge

Daniel Tubbs follows Pork Quality Assurance® Plus and Transport Quality Assurance® guidelines within his daily responsibilities on his operation. His forward-thinking mentality fosters research, specifically with animal health. Tubbs believes NPB can help promote and provide information about sustainability-focused technology to producers.

We Care®

Tubbs knows animal wellbeing is a We Care® ethical principle and needs to be monitored. He has worked with Validus as an auditor. Tubbs believes environment is the most challenging principle; not the action but talking about it to producers and consumers so they understand. While all the principles are vital to the industry, he believes food safety is the most important.

Leadership

Tubbs has served as chairman for Alabama Pork Producers Association and has been president of his local cattleman’s organization. He promotes healthy protein to consumers and highlights the scholarship program to youth.

Communication

Tubbs believes that the “small guy needs a voice” and wants to be that representative. He is a straightforward communicator and interested in representing and growing production in Alabama. He follows steps to understand needed information and acts appropriately.

Attitude, Passion and Commitment

The most exciting part about the industry is watching the pigs grow through each phase and shipping the high-quality product out the door. His favorite part is when neighbors or customers say his pork is the best.

Dr. Gordon Spronk, Minnesota

Biography

Dr. Gordon Spronk is a partner in a generational farrow-to-finish and cropping operation, Spronk Brothers III, based in Pipestone, Minnesota. Spronk Brothers III markets over 275,000 pigs per year. The operation also has over 3,000 acres of corn and soybeans. Spronk has been active in the pork industry, serving on several National Pork Board (NPB) and National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) committees and task forces. A few examples include the Animal Health Committee (2014-2019), African Swine Fever Task Force (2018-2020), African Swine Fever Working Group (2020-2021), Sow Lifetime Oversight Committee (2012-2017) and Genetic Evaluation Committee (1993-2002). He most recently served on NPPC’s Board of Directors from 2018-2022. He is currently involved with the U.S. Swine Health Improvement Plan (2021).

Nominating Committee Comments

Industry Knowledge

Dr. Gordon Spronk is a progressive pork producer who has been actively involved domestically for decades and is also an international leader and ambassador for U.S. pork. He is a veterinarian who is involved in production and has business expertise. Spronk understands the responsibilities of the Pork Act and Order.

We Care®

Spronk lives and breathes the We Care® principles. He embraces the Checkoff-funded On-Farm Sustainability Report as a tool for his farm to measure and report key metrics like CO2 sequestration and manure nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium (NPK) values. His favorite principle is community because it is the most fun; he believes the most important principle is food safety.

Leadership

Spronk has been a state and national leader in the U.S. pork industry, along with participating on numerous task forces and committees. He envisions a cohesive and collaborative culture with NPPC and NPB boards, staff and producers.

Communication

When communicating, especially in conflict, Spronk’s path is clear, consistent and direct to those who can act. If there’s a problem, it starts with communication and asking the right questions for alignment. In meetings, he is an active participant and comes fully prepared with notes in hand.

Attitude, Passion and Commitment

Spronk’s commitment to agriculture is rooted in generations before him, with his passion for agriculture coming from his father and education from his mother. His commitment is second to none, and he encourages future generations to continue progressing. His love for the industry extends to the product, as he enjoys pork’s versatility in cooking methods and flavors.

Jessica Campbell, Ohio

Biography

Jessica Campbell is the owner of Carroll Creek Farms, LLC, based in Waynesville, Ohio. The farm markets 300 pigs per year directly to consumers through a community-supported agriculture program, wholesale freezer meats, their on-farm store and the local farmer’s market. She raises cattle, sheep, broilers, turkeys and layers as well.

She is a National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Allied Industry member (2017-present) and was elected to be an allied industry voting delegate (2020) and allied industry nominating committee member. Campbell is a current Ohio Pork Board of Directors member (2020-present) and an Operation Main Street speaker. Her other leadership positions include the Warren County Farm Bureau, the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Farm Bureau Young Ag Professionals Committee.

Nominating Committee Comments

Industry Knowledge

Jessica Campbell is knowledgeable in key areas of agriculture, particularly finance, through her experience as an agriculture lender. This could be an asset to NPB because she has a deep understanding of finances within pork production, which can help her spend Checkoff funds wisely.

We Care®

Campbell believes food solutions are not simple, and she welcomes pros and cons in her conversations about production systems. Campbell provides “radical transparency for her farm” by inviting consumers to visit her diversified farm, purchase protein and discuss all aspects of the food supply.

Leadership

Campbell has local involvement with Farm Bureau, which has a different focus than NPB, but has provided her with an opportunity to grow strong agricultural leadership skills and an understanding of complex tasks. She also has a collaborative connection to NPPC.

Communication

Campbell is an active listener and communicates honestly. Since she works with farmers in her professional role, she can speak the language and handle tough situations thoughtfully. She can formulate empathetic responses prior to speaking. She asks questions to drive goals for her customers.

Attitude, Passion and Commitment

Campbell shows passion through raising animals and inviting consumers to her farm, while also working full-time off the farm. She doesn’t need to raise animals to make a living. She is interested in teaching the public about agriculture and all types of production systems.

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