Iowa pig farmer named finalist for 2017 America’s Pig Farmer of the YearSM

Iowa pig farmer named finalist for 2017 America’s Pig Farmer of the YearSM

An Iowa pig farmer is one of four finalists to be named the 2017 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year by the National Pork Board.

Leon Sheets of Ionia has been around pigs since he was a young boy and raising pigs has been a life-long passion. He raises 33,000 pigs in modern barns on his farm in northeast Iowa. With the help of his employees, son and wife, Sheets also raises corn, soybeans, hay and cover crops.

“Leon represents some of the best in pig farming,” said Iowa Pork Producers Association President Curtis Meier. “He exemplifies Iowa pig farmers who have taken the lead on environmental sustainability, animal welfare and continuous improvement.”

The goal of the program is to honor the U.S. pig farmer who best excels at raising pigs using the We CareSM ethical principles and is best able to share his or her farming story with the American public.

The other 2017 finalists are:

  • Bill Luckey – Columbus, Nebraska
  • Maria Mauer – Greensburg, Indiana
  • Leslie McCuiston – Columbus, Nebraska

The four finalists met Aug. 30 in Chicago with an expert panel of third-party judges. The judges viewed on-farm videos produced at the finalists’ farms and conducted in-person interviews with each of them.

From Aug. 30 through Sept. 8, the public can vote once a day per person, per e-mail address for their favorite finalist at The winner will be announced on Oct. 3.

Members of the five-member panel include Brittni Furrow, Walmart’s Senior Director of Sustainability; Dr. Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of American Humane; Kari Underly, a third-generation butcher, author and principal of Range®, Inc., a meat marketing and education firm; Dr. J. Scott Vernon, professor, College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, Cal Poly; and Brad Greenway, the 2016 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year and chairman of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.

The National Pork Board created the America’s Pig Farmer of the Year contest in order to recognize the best in pig farming. This honor will be awarded annually to the pig farmer who demonstrates and lives by the We Care ethical principles.