The National Turkey Federation's (NTF) Board of Directors elected Steve Willardsen to serve as the federation's 2012 chairman. Willardsen is president of Cargill Value Added Meats Retail in Wichita, Kan.

"It makes me proud to be part of an industry that pulls together and works in unison to manage challenges," Willardsen said during his acceptance speech. "It will be an honor to lead an organization that is so effective in successfully resolving challenges by turning them into opportunities."

Willardsen mentioned issues such as food safety practices, renewable fuels, the environment and animal care practices as areas NTF and its members will address in the year ahead. Willardsen noted that a key in managing challenges is NTF's ability to maintain a progressive, innovative outlook when problems arise.

Near the conclusion of his acceptance speech, Willardsen spoke about the future of the turkey industry by saying, "The industry will only get better as we manage challenges and work to balance them with proactive opportunities."

During Saturday's meeting at NTF's Annual Convention, the Board of Directors also elected John Burkel, director, Northern Pride Inc., as vice chairman; and Gary Cooper, vice president and chief operating officer, Cooper Farms, as secretary-treasurer. Richard Huisinga, executive vice president of Willmar Poultry Company, assumes the position of immediate past chairman.

During the convention, the Board also reelected Jihad Douglas, Aviagen Turkeys; Yubert Envia, Foster Farms; Jim Leighton, Perdue Farms, Inc.; Walter Pelletier, Butterball, LLC; Ron Prestage, Prestage Farms; John Reicks, Sara Lee Food and Beverage; and Carl Wittenburg, Protein Alliance, Inc., to the Executive Committee (EC). The Board elected Glenn Leitch, Jennie-O Turkey Store, and Ron Kardel, West Liberty Foods, to their first terms as EC members. After the Board meeting, the elected EC members appointed Matt Cook, Norbest Inc.,and Jeff Sveen, Dakota Provisions, to the Executive Committee as at-large members.

In addition to the new Board and Executive Committee members, National Turkey Federation (NTF) President Joel Brandenberger announced the promotion of Leslee Oden to legislative affairs manager. As legislative affairs manager, Oden will be responsible for development and implementation of programs to ensure maximum grassroots involvement from NTF members in the federation's lobbying activities. In her new role, she will work to ensure the federation's membership is extremely active and engaged in the legislative process. She also will continue to be responsible for the day-to-day management of TURPAC, NTF's political action committee.

"Leslee has shown dedication, hard-work and commitment to NTF's legislative mission," said Brandenberger. "We are confident that she will continue to strengthen the legislative team as they strive to influence and implement public policy that will promote and protect the turkey industry."

Source: NTF