(CLIVE, Iowa) - A Smithfield Hog Production manager has received a 2017 Master Pork Partner Award from the Iowa Pork Producers Association and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
The emblematic brass belt buckle was presented to John Esler of Alta in Buena Vista County at the Iowa Pork Congress Banquet in Des Moines last night. The recognition included a multi-media presentation of him and his work in the industry.
Esler joined Smithfield in 1996 as a sow farm manager and currently serves as the business improvement manager. He oversees the construction of new sites, retrofitting of older sites, and any upgrades to company-owned and contract grower sites.
One of the most rewarding parts of John's job is the ability to work with young farmers who want to get started in agriculture. He especially appreciates their desire to incorporate cutting-edge technology into their operations.
Esler built several barns in 2013 as a contract grower for Smithfield. He currently has a 4,200-head site in Pocahontas County and a 5,400-head site in Sac County. Between the two sites, he markets 30,000 pigs per year in a wean-to-finish flow. John leads three site managers who are responsible for the day-to-day pig care. He works with local neighbors to utilize the manure from his buildings and plans to add solar energy systems to his sites that will satisfy approximately 65 percent of the energy needs.
The Goldfield native got his start in farming and owned and operated a diversified crop and livestock farm, consisting of 560 acres of corn and soybeans, cattle and hogs. John decided to discontinue farming himself when cash rents exploded, but he still owns the land and now leases to a pair of beginning farmers.
Esler is an active member of the Buena Vista County Pork Producers and IPPA. He serves as a member of the IPPA Producer Education Committee and has volunteered his time as a judge for the ever-popular tenderloin contest.
John and his wife, Kim, have three adult children and five grandchildren.
The Master Pork Partner Award recognizes pork production company employees who have demonstrated positive impacts in their production systems and a commitment to the We Care ethical principles, but don't have active daily roles at a specific production site. This is the fourth year of the award.