The Pork Leadership Institute (PLI) combines curriculums from National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council leadership programs to create comprehensive training designed to develop future pork industry leaders. Upon graduation, participants better understand the roles of the two organizations and have developed the skills necessary to lead an ever-changing pork industry.
Two Ohioans are taking part in this year’s PLI, Brad Heimerl from Johnstown and Rich Deaton from New Madison.
“There is so much you can learn and you can truly understand where pig farming is throughout the nation,” Heimerl said. “We took a trip to Mexico which allowed us to see trade and just how close and intertwined we are with marketing to other countries.”
The experience also promotes leadership within the pork industry and instills knowledge that can be taken back to the farm to better the operation.
One of the biggest takeaways for Heimerl was a trip to the Nation’s Capital, where he was able to meet with his legislators to visit about the biggest issues facing the pork industry including antibiotics, keeping costs in check and pork competitive in the world market.
“There are numerous amounts of issues that come and go that highly affect what we are trying to accomplish — getting our products out there,” Heimerl said. “With the help of NPB and NPPC, we collaboratively have a unified front to make sure that we as pork producers can strive to do the best that we can.”
PLI isn’t only meant for the younger members of the pork industry. Even seasoned producers, like Deaton, are seeing benefits from being in the program.
“I’m in a time in my life where I can give back to an industry that has been very good to me,” said Deaton, who farms alongside his two sons. “Pork Leadership Institute is a way for me to broaden my horizon and learn more about what that the pork checkoff offers, how we can get involved with legislation that has an impact on my farm and to meet other producers, like myself, and share stories and experiences.”