2018: Clair and Joanne Schmidt
The Minnesota Pork Board recognized Claire and Joanne Schmidt of Ceylon, Minnesota, as this year’s Pork Promoters of the Year Award recipients on February 4, 2019, at the Hilton Minneapolis.
Challenges face the pork industry every day concerning farmer image and the safety of pork products. Now, more than ever before, having strong advocates for pig farming and pork is imperative to enhance the public’s viewpoint. Clair and Joanne Schmidt dedicate much of their time promoting the industry not just to their friends and family, but to their neighbors throughout the state.
Through promotional events they attend, Clair and Joanne meet farmers from all across the state that they “probably wouldn’t have met otherwise,” stated Joanne. “Volunteering allowed us to get to know other members in our community.”
Many will know them from their involvement with the Martin County Pork Producers.
“We have both been involved with the Martin County Pork Producers for years,” Clair explained. “I served on the board for multiple years, and served as president for three years. Joanne is currently the secretary and has also taken over Bill Crawford’s role with managing the Martin County Magic Seasoning.”
Clair and Joanne were fundamental in the implementation of the newest building on the fairgrounds. For the last eight years, they managed the Martin County Pork Producers fair stand, handling supplies and volunteer scheduling during the week-long event.
During harvest, Clair and Joanne personally grill pork chops for more than 100 different farmers throughout the area. Along with a homemade cookie and chips, the pork chops are delivered directly to farmers working out in the fields.
“Many farmers say that it is their favorite meal of the fall,” Clair declared. “Events like this create community bonds and show support for farmers who work so tirelessly during these times of the year.”
The Schmidt’s first became motivated to step up and serve the industry simply to support it. They saw all the work their predecessors partook in to build the industry up and they wanted to be a part of that as well.
“The industry is what it is today because of the work pig farmers and advocates did before us,” Joanne stated. “We understand that without people willing to step up and promote the industry, the industry could diminish. We don’t want to see that happen; we want the industry to be stronger than ever before moving forward.”
Messages like this are promoted at board meetings, community events, and in households. Inspiring others, especially younger generations, to give their time to volunteer and promote the industry can be a struggle. Relaying the importance of stepping up is essential.
This ideal strongly withheld in their household, raising two sons, now ages 27 and 29. Through their childhood, Brad and Andrew attended many events promoting pig farming and saw how important promotion is to supporting the industry.
“We are confident both sons will follow in our footsteps and continue advocating for the industry,” Joanne added.
“Small stepping stones, such as handing out a really good piece of pork loin or a pork chop can lead to great conversations about the pork industry,” Clair explained. “These conversations lead to more people having a better understanding of the industry.”
“The greatest opportunity we have as promoters is the ability to communicate with people how great pork is and how much better our practices are than they were in the past,” added Joanne.
We believe there are so many pig farmers that are doing such a great job promoting pork and the pig industry, and we are very thankful for all of them. We would not be in this position without their guidance and the roles they played in showing us the ropes and how important promotion in the industry is,” concluded Clair.