In the very first year Indiana’s Keith Schoettmer won the 2015 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year. Now another Hoosier pig farmer, like Schoettmer from Greensburg in Decatur County, has made it to the final four for the 2016 honor.
From now through Sept. 10th you can vote once a day per person per email address for Maria Mauer at www.americaspigfarmer.com. The winner will be announced Oct. 11. Mauer, of Smiley Brothers, Inc. farrow-to-finish operation told HAT the honor is a pretty big deal.
“We’re a small farm and when we applied for this we just gave it our best effort. When they called us to let us know we had made the cut to the final four, we were just overwhelmed. Not only as a small farm but as a woman in agriculture, it’s a big day for us.”
And how would it feel to win it all?
“I would love that very much. There’s so many things I have in mind to help both the farmers and consumers.”
She credited the inaugural program and Schoettmer himself for reaching over 31 million consumers with a positive message last year. The positive message she would like to share is how she promotes animal well-being.
“If we can’t treat animals right we can hardly expect to treat each other right, and it’s all got to start somewhere. I’m teaching my son to just respect life in general and to take good care of everything you’re responsible for really means a lot to me. We all have it in us to be kinder, and we should be.”
She also said that they take exceptionally good care of the animals, especially the sows.
“We like our sows to stay in the herd a long time so it’s very important that we give her the very best care so that she can last several years. We do everything we possibly can to give her everything she needs to be comfortable and healthy, and have a nice long life.”
The goal of the program is to honor the U.S. pig farmer who best excels at raising pigs using the We Care ethical principles and is best able to share his or her farming story with the American public.
“Maria is a great representative for our state of Indiana,” said Indiana Pork Board President Jason Slaton. “She exemplifies Indiana pig farmers who have taken the lead on environmental sustainability, animal welfare and continuous improvement.”
The other 2016 finalists are Craig Andersen of Centerville, South Dakota, Jarrod Bakker from Dike, Iowa and Brad Greenway, Mitchell, South Dakota.