Neil Dierks

Neil Dierks has dedicated 40 years to helping pork producers across the nation. His career included stops at the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA), Iowa Corn, and, most notably, 20 years as chief executive officer for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). He retired in December 2021.

Dierks has worn numerous hats over his time serving the industry. He joined IPPA in 1981 to manage Iowa Pork Congress and went on to head legislative state outreach for the organization. After leading field services and state legislative outreach for the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Dierks joined NPPC in 1990 to manage World Pork Expo. Prior to becoming CEO in 2001, he also served as the organization’s director of operations, vice president of research and education, and senior vice president of programs.

As CEO, he guided NPPC’s steady growth for the next two decades, expanding sources of revenue and establishing it as a highly effective and influential national advocacy organization critical to the profitable growth of U.S. pork producers. Rich Degner, IPPA’s former CEO, says: “When the National Pork Producers Council was reorganizing and the volunteer leaders were giving consideration to the qualities the new CEO should possess, in my opinion, there was only one person in the United States who possessed the humility, leadership qualities, and presence necessary at that time. It was Neil Dierks.”

Dierks exhibited a tremendous ability to advise NPPC’s producer leaders. Sam Carney, a past NPPC president, most admires that Dierks “would sit back and listen to everyone’s thoughts. When we finished talking, he would speak, and everyone listened. And when he got done, everyone realized he was right. His advice and counsel were unbelievable.”

In addition, Dierks had a knack for putting on a good face, even when things were rough. And he encouraged board members to do the same.

Regardless of the challenge—potential regulatory restrictions, trade barriers, or even the Iowa Pork Tent at the Iowa State Fair—Dierks’ No. 1 concern has always been what’s best for producers. When describing Dierks, Howard Hill, another past president of NPPC, used the following words: integrity, honesty, intelligence, dedication, and leadership. Hill says, “I believe every NPPC board member and officer appreciated his ability to deal with and help solve the numerous challenges confronting our industry.”