Jerry Lane, president of Claxton Poultry in Claxton, Georgia, was installed as 2014-2015 chairman of the National Chicken Council (NCC) during NCC's 60th Annual Conference held today in Washington, D.C.
"It's a great honor to take the gavel from Mike Helgeson and serve as the incoming chair for the National Chicken Council," Lane said. "As an industry, and as an organization, we can be proud of the tremendous progress we've made and the improvements we've achieved that would have been unthinkable years ago. But we can do even better, and we will. To assist me during my term as NCC chairman, I'm fortunate to be working with a talented group of officers – Todd Simmons and Mike Popowycz – and I'm looking forward to the coming year."
Lane, a veteran of 35 years in Georgia's poultry industry, has been with Claxton Poultry since 1985, serving as General Manager and Vice President. He was named President in 1997. Prior to joining Claxton, Lane began his poultry career at Mar-Jac Poultry in 1978.
He has held a variety of leadership roles with a number of local and national poultry groups and associations, including serving as: a member of the NCC Board of Directors; a member of the Georgia Governors Agriculture Commission; president, senior vice president and board member of the Georgia Poultry Federation; past chairman, Georgia Poultry Improvement Association; and a board member of N.W. Fries, Inc. and Claxton Bank. He is also a life member of the Poultry Leaders Roundtable.
Lane graduated in 1972 from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Industrial and Systems Engineering. He is also a graduate of Brenau University with a Masters of Business Administration. Jerry and his wife, Kitty, live in Statesboro, Georgia. They have one grown daughter.
Serving as vice chairman for 2014-2015 is Todd Simmons, chief executive officer of Simmons Foods headquartered in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.
He joined Simmons in 1994 following graduation from Georgetown University. Most recently Simmons was promoted to Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman in January of 2013, after having served as Chief Operating Officer of both the Poultry and Pet Food divisions for the previous six years.
Simmons also serves on the Executive Committee and Board of the Pet Food Institute, and is a member of the Arkansas Executive Forum. Todd and his wife Shelley live in Siloam Springs, Arkansas with their daughter Caroline and son Charlie.
New to the officer corps, Mike Popowycz, vice chairman and chief financial officer at Case Foods, headquartered in Troutman, North Carolina, takes over as Secretary-Treasurer.
Popowycz joined the Ohio Division of Case Foods in 1987 as Corporate Controller, was promoted to Corporate Treasurer of Case Foods in 1990, was promoted to Chief Financial Officer in 1992, and was promoted to Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer in February 2012.
Popowycz was elected to the Case Foods Board of Directors in 2005 and to the National Chicken Council Board of Directors in June 2012. Prior to joining the Ohio Division, Mr. Popowycz spent two years with Bell Atlantic Corporation and seven years with Perdue Farms Incorporated serving in various accounting and tax positions. He received a B.A. in Accounting from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Mike and his wife Laurie live in Mooresville, North Carolina. They have three grown children.
Officers serve one-year terms. In addition to the three new officers, Mike Brown, of Vienna, Virginia, was elected to a fourth term as president of NCC.
"I want to personally thank Immediate Past Chairman Mike Helgeson for his strong commitment and for the leadership he displayed as NCC Chairman this past year, and for his dedication to our industry for more than 40 years," noted Brown. "His experience has been invaluable. I wish Mike and his wife, Karel, all of the best as they embark on a well-earned retirement together.
"While it has been a good year in the chicken business, 2015 will not be a year without challenges: We still have to tackle a Renewable Fuel Standard that is broken beyond repair; our inspection system is in the process of being modernized; we will work to improve on our food safety record, especially in second processing; continue to work to expand access to new markets; and embark on a new sustainability initiative.
"I look forward to leaning on the extensive experience and vast knowledge of Jerry, Todd and Mike to guide our organization in the coming year."