(CLIVE, Iowa) - The Iowa Pork Producers Association annually recognizes one or more people who have greatly contributed to the success of the state's pork industry as an Honorary Master Pork Producer. IPPA's 2016 recipient is no stranger to the state association.
IPPA presented the award to retired IPPA CEO Rich Degner last night at the Iowa Pork Congress Banquet in Des Moines. He served as CEO from 1998 until his retirement on Sept. 30, 2015.
Degner joined IPPA in 1980 and held nearly every position with the association prior to becoming CEO. He worked in communications, producer education, marketing, public policy, research and administration. Rich gained extensive international experience as part of the association's market development and producer education efforts.
The pork industry underwent many changes during Degner's IPPA career. The transition from typical family farrow-to-finish farms to large-scale family farrowing operations and multi-site production was a major change.
The 2001 split of the National Pork Producers Council into the National Pork Board and NPPC created need for a new public policy funding source and a system of revenue sharing, which Degner helped develop.
Rich helped establish the Iowa Pork Tent to give the industry greater exposure at the Iowa State Fair. He could often be found washing baked bean pans in the kitchen during the fair.
Degner helped start IPPA's foreign market development program with the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the U.S. Meat Export Federation and was a leader in the implementation of the association's research funding program. He also made it a point to build a strong relationship with Iowa State University, saying "it's truly valuable to pork producers."
The Le Mars native was raised on a farm. He attended Iowa State University and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in agricultural education. He taught vocational agriculture at Rock Valley and Ankeny schools in Iowa for four years prior to joining IPPA.
Rich and his wife, Nancy, reside in Ankeny and have one son, Chris. The Degners also own family farm land, including a century farm.
The Honorary Master Pork Producer Award is presented for outstanding and distinguished service to the betterment and success of Iowa's pork industry. Recipients are selected by the IPPA Board of Directors and the program is funded by the Pork Checkoff.