Iowa’s Telford honored with the 2023 Paulson-Whitmore State Executive Award

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the National Pork Board awarded former Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) Executive Director Mike Telford with the Paulson-Whitmore State Executive Award. Presented at the National Pork Industry Forum joint annual business meeting, Telford was recognized for his leadership, vision and long-standing commitment to the pork industry.

“NPPC and the National Pork Board are honored to present Mike with this well-deserved award,” said outgoing NPPC President Terry Wolters, a producer from Pipestone, Minnesota. “Throughout his career, Mike Telford has been a well-respected visionary and committed mentor for pork producers across the country. His leadership and unconventional thinking helped the Iowa pork industry navigate through some challenging years, helping it to continue to flourish and succeed,” Wolters added.

The award, named after former Minnesota and Wisconsin Executive Directors Don Paulson and Rex Whitmore, recognizes state pork organization executives for outstanding leadership and commitment.

Like many pork association executives, Telford discovered his love for agriculture at a young age in high school. With his involvement in the National FFA Organization, Telford realized agriculture was where he belonged and enrolled at Iowa State University to study animal science. While at Iowa State, doors to his career began opening.

In 1978, Telford stepped in as IPPA’s executive director. During some of the most challenging years in agriculture, Telford led IPPA with his unconventional and bold thinking. However, Telford is quick to deflect any credit for his great accomplishments and gives credit to his producers and team.

Under Telford’s leadership, IPPA played a key role in the establishment of the mandatory checkoff, a legislative achievement he shared with a dedicated group of producers who did the research and united the industry across the state. He saw issues from a unique perspective, with the ability to anticipate the needs and challenges facing the pork industry. Many members of the team Telford assembled have gone on to lead other state associations, on the national level and within other agricultural groups.

Herring inducted Into National Pork Industry Hall of Fame

Innovation, family and a customer-focused mindset were foundational for the latest National Pork Industry Hall of Fame inductee, William “Billy” Herring. With his successful career spanning more than 50 years in the pork industry, Herring was inducted at the National Pork Producers Council’s (NPPC) annual business meeting — the National Pork Industry Forum.

“Billy’s contribution to the U.S. pork industry is second to none. He’s influenced how pigs are raised not just in the U.S. but worldwide,” said outgoing NPPC President Terry Wolters. “Billy has made countless lasting contributions to the U.S. pork industry and has led with values that he has instilled in the next generation of pork producers. We congratulate Billy for his induction to the Hall of Fame because the pork industry wouldn’t be where it is today without his contributions.”

Herring founded Hog Slat, which serves pig and poultry farmer’s equipment and is the largest contractor and manufacturer of hog equipment in the United States. Hog Slat started as a solution to a supply chain problem when Herring was building a new nursery for the family’s 300-sow farrow-to-finish operation in North Carolina. In response, Herring created his own slats, and his quality workmanship and attention to detail was the start of a multifaceted international enterprise.

Herring's family is at the core of this success — which, by his definition, includes his wife, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and the 2,000-plus Hog Slat employees. Herring and sons Tommy, David and Mark work together managing the business, which remains family-owned, and includes a 30,000-sow farm and construction jobs around the globe.

Other companies began at the same time as Hog Slat to supply producers, but Herring’s business model outgrew and outlasted the rest. “Billy was a producer himself,” said Bynum Driggers, Ph.D., professor emeritus at North Carolina State University. “He saw the benefit and how people responded to the need for equipment and the technology he could provide. His company just kept growing and growing under his leadership.”

Herring has recently retired, but the company upholds the direct-to-farmer model he established, allowing not only for affordable and quality products but also for service, research and development.

Source: National Pork Producers Council