NPPC board member Duane Stateler (center) from McComb has done extensive work lobbying for the industry. He is pictured with NPPC board members Dale Reicks from Iowa (left) and Kraig Westerbeek from North Carolina (right).

OPC recognizes 2021 award winners

Each year the Ohio Pork Council recognizes award winners at the Ohio Pork Congress. This year’s event was held both in person and with a virtual option. This year’s award winners are:

• Pork Industry Excellence Award — Duane Stateler

• Ohio Pork Council Service Award — Todd Price

• Ohio Pork Council Swine Manager of the Year — Travis Stahl (of Hord Family Farms)

• Ohio Pork Council Friend of Ohio Pork Industry Award — Ohio Dairy Producers Association

• Ohio Pork Council Pork Promoter of the Year Award — Lauren Schwab Eyre.

Here is more about each of the award winners.

Pork Industry Excellence Award: Duane Stateler

Duane Stateler has made many contributions to the pork industry — both at the state and national level. 

Stateler Family Farms spans six generations and agriculture has always been an integral part of Duane’s life as a fourth-generation pig farmer. Growing up on the family farm, Duane worked alongside his father to raise pigs farrow-to-finish and grow crops. However, in 1984, Duane and his wife, Margie, made the difficult decision to phase out of pork production in order to prioritize Duane’s health.

As Duane and Margie’s son, Anthony, became older, he expressed an interest to continue in his father’s footsteps, and as a family, they opted to diversify the farm. In 2006, the Stateler family took the opportunity to become a contract grower for Hord Family Farms — a pivotal moment for Duane and his involvement in the pork industry. 

Duane’s leadership in the pork industry began in 2008, when he was the first contract grower elected to serve on the OPC Board of Directors. Since then, Duane has held numerous leadership positions at the state level, including: OPC President, OPC Legislative Committee Chairman, OPC Budget Committee Member, and OPC Nominating Committee Member. As OPC President, Duane led the organization through the challenges of PED, and the beginning of increasing regulations in the Western Lake Erie Basin. 

At the national level, Duane has served as an Operation Main Street Speaker, a member of National Pork Board’s We Care Advisory Committee, a member of NPPC’s Investor and Member Relations Committee, and NPPC’s Nominating Committee. As an NPPC Board Member, Duane has been at the forefront of many influential conversations with elected officials at the local, state and national level – voicing the concerns of pork producers across the nation. Duane’s charisma and ability to have transparent conversations with political influencers has paid dividends to the pork industry in the areas of African Swine Fever, global trade, cultured meat, gene editing, and Proposition 12, to name a few. 

For Duane, a passion to protect the future of the pork industry and educate consumers about modern farming practices is something that comes naturally — and it’s evident to anyone he encounters, whether at the local or national level. 

Ohio’s animal agriculture industry has faced state water quality issues for years — something that the Statelers, as farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin, are all too familiar with. In 2016, the Statelers became part of the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms project and have since entertained thousands of visitors and participated in countless research projects in an effort to assess, and improve, manure management on Ohio farms. 

In addition to Duane’s leadership within the pork industry, Duane has served on various agriculture committees and local organizations, including: the McComb Farmers Co-op Board, the Hancock County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, Blanchard Valley Farmers Co-op Board, the Ohio Livestock Coalition, the McComb School Board, and as a member of the Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Soybean Association, and Ohio Corn and Wheat Association. Duane also served the McComb Fire Department, as caption for 15 years, and assistant chief for 5 years. 

Since his early involvement in the pork industry, Duane has been known to do everything in his power to protect the future of the industry. As a friend of the industry and a true leader, he has dedicated countless hours working diligently to finding concrete solutions to hot-button issues.

Ohio Pork Council Service Award: Todd Price

Todd Price, DVM is the founder of North Central Veterinary Services of Sycamore, Ohio, Lincoln Way Animal Hospital of Upper Sandusky, Ohio and Whetstone Animal Hospital in Bucyrus Ohio. Price, his wife and four children operate Price Family Farms, a grain and livestock farm where they grain farm 600 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and hay and also operate a commercial wean to finish production system currently raising 40,000 commercial market pigs a year. The family also has 75 show sows.

 Through his veterinary practice, Todd has mentored many veterinary students and has been a guest speaker at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine on multiple occasions in both the classroom and wet labs. He has also served on the Large Animal advisory council for the College of Veterinary medicine and has lectured on commercial swine and show pig production at state veterinary meetings in Ohio, Missouri, Oregon and Texas.

Todd is no stranger to the Ohio Pork Council, as he has served on the Board of Directors, chairman of the OH-Pigs show circuit committee, and a member of the swine health committee and producer education committee. During his years of volunteering, Todd has spoken at eight Swine Health Symposiums, helped plan educational sessions for numerous Ohio Pork Congress Symposiums, and played an active role in many Junior Swine Days. 

Through his role on the swine health committee, Todd’s expertise has been invaluable in the launch of the PRRS mapping program, and helping the industry navigate issues ranging from foreign animal disease to COVID-19. Earlier this year, Todd was selected to serve on Governor DeWine’s County Fair Task Force, in which he provided sensible, science-based advice regarding public health. Todd’s expertise and counsel on the task force helped preserve county fairs and livestock shows within the state of Ohio, including the first Ohio Youth Livestock Expo, in which he played an active role in planning and implementing. 

With a true passion for supporting youth in the swine industry, Todd’s support of the OH-Pigs Show Circuit through his role as committee chairman has been influential on the growth of the program. Entering its sixth show season, Todd played a pivotal role in founding the program in 2015. Since the inception of the show circuit, Todd has volunteered countless hours towards educational opportunities for youth involved in the show industry. Todd is a long-time member of the Ohio Veterinary Medicine Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. In addition to his involvement in the animal health and pork industries, Todd served on his local school board for 12 years. 

Swine Manager of the Year: Travis Stahl

Travis graduated from Purdue University with a degree in animal science. He managed research operations for United Feeds for many years before joining the Hord Family Farms team 13 years ago. 

Since joining the Hord team, Travis has been willing to jump in and volunteer at various farm events, in addition to industry events. At the farm-level, Travis enjoys volunteering at community fundraiser and outreach events. Travis has also volunteered at the Ohio Pork Council Stand at the Ohio State Fair.

Travis’s knowledge and experience caring for pigs is exceptional. Travis’s coworkers have touted his excellent instincts when evaluating factors associated with animal well-being — including ventilation, health, feed, water, and animal husbandry. Travis is also well-known for his ability to move quickly on his feet towards a course of action or treatment plan. His natural instincts, coupled with his experience and knowledge, enable Travis to work hand-in-hand with the veterinary team to find sensible solutions to promote the health and well-being of the pigs he manages. 

Above all else, Travis is always willing to lend a helping hand and serve as a leader for his team and Hord Family Farms’ grower partners. Travis’s ability and desire to follow through with each person or problem he encounters is one of his many desirable traits. When dealing with challenges, you can count on Travis to make sure things are handled to the best of his ability and know that proper pig care will be prioritized by him and his team.

Friends of Ohio Pork Industry Award: Ohio Dairy Producers Association

OPC president Ryan McClure with Scott Higgins of ODPA.

All farmers are dedicated to safeguarding the planet’s natural resources and sustainable animal agriculture production. For years, livestock farmers have relied on science, innovation, and efficiency while protecting the environment. Yet, animal agriculture continues to encounter opposition through negative information, burdensome regulations, and unnecessary threats as an industry. 

Manure management and water quality are an absolute priority for Ohio’s pork and dairy industries. Recognizing this, the Ohio Dairy Producers Association (ODPA) has been an instrumental partner to the Ohio Pork Council in water quality efforts led in 2020. Having the foresight to drive collaboration between Ohio’s agriculture, conversation, environmental and research communities, ODPA played a pivotal role in the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative (OACI). OACI is a partnership that recognizes farmers for their dedication to advancing methods that improve water quality in Ohio and increasing the number of best management practices being implemented on farms.

ODPA has served as a leader and investor in OACI since its inception in 2019. In its first program year, ODPA served as a leader on the OACI Board of Directors, and as an investor towards the establishment of nutrient management efforts and a farmer certification program. As a valued partner in Ohio’s agriculture community, ODPA has contributed funding and invested time towards real solutions for sustainable nutrient management practices that enhance the state’s water quality and soil health. 

Together, ODPA and OPC have generated a positive impact by leveraging funds, knowledge and effort to assist their farmer members. Collectively, the two organizations have accomplished more and established a stronger voice within Ohio agriculture. 

Pork Promoter of the Year: Lauren Schwab Eyre

Lauren is the Farrowing Manager and Consumer Communication and Education Manager at Schwab Family Farms in Somerville, a farrow-to-wean operation. There, she works alongside her parents, Jeff and Toni, her brother, Ryan, and several team members. She and her husband, Ryan, reside in Eaton. 

Lauren attended Miami University, where she earned her bachelor’s in journalism and Women’s Studies, and her master’s in Family Studies, with a focus on food insecurity. While in college, Lauren was active in the Ohio Pork Council’s Pork in the Classroom program, in which she spoke to hundreds of Family and Consumer Science students about modern pork production. Upon graduation, Lauren accepted the opportunity to return to the family farm and manage farrowing operations. Naturally, Lauren paired her journalism background with her love for agriculture to promote the pork industry.

Since joining the family operation, Lauren has been active in education and promotion efforts through the Ohio Pork Council, National Pork Board, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, and American Agri-Women, in addition to her own online social influencer work. 

In recent years, Lauren has served as an Ohio Pork Council Virtual Field Trip host, showcasing her family’s pig operation to students, and serving as a resource for those unfamiliar with Ohio agriculture. In addition, Lauren has also served as an Operation Main Street presenter, in which she has worked with the National Pork Board to speak with local Kiwanis and Rotary organizations about Ohio pork production. 

At the national level, Lauren has served as a pork representative for the American Agriwomen organization, and for the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. Both of these opportunities allowed Lauren to attend national conferences and promote pork among agriculture professionals. In 2015, Lauren was selected as a finalist for the National Pork Board’s Pig Farmer of the Year contest, a prestigious honor that recognizes pig farmers who demonstrate and live by the We Care ethical principles. 

In addition to her involvement within the agriculture industry, Lauren leads her own promotion efforts online, where she is affectionately known as Farm Girl with Curls. Whether talking about country music, her daily role on the farm, or how healthy pigs make safe pork, Lauren enjoys serving as a resource for consumers across the country interested in learning more about Ohio’s pork industry. 

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