The Minnesota Pork Board recently honored Dale and Lori Stevermer as Pork Promoters of the Year. The Stevermers, who live south of Easton, received the award on Jan. 27, in Minneapolis.
Once you get to know Dale and Lori, and their background in pork, you realize though the award may honor them as the 2020 Pork Promoters of the Year, promoting pork and the farmers who raise pigs has really been a life-long passion for the couple and their family.
Dale grew up on the farm he and Lori now operate. He was one of four children raised by Bernie and Celie Stevermer and graduated from Wells-Easton High School.
“I went to Iowa State and got my Bachelor of Science degree in animal science,” Dale comments.
But he did not come back to the family farm right away.
“Dad felt we should get some experience away from the farm,” Dale explains. “So I worked for two years as a loan officer for Farm Credit Services of Omaha and was based in Osage, Iowa.”
Dale returned to help operate the family farm, including the 120-sow farrow to finish operation, in 1988.
Lori was raised on a farm west of Truman, the daughter of Arnie and Donna Bentz. She has two brothers and one sister. One of those brothers still operates the family farm.
“I had pigs when I was in 4-H so that was some my earliest involvement with the pig industry,” she recalls.
She also got her first pork promotion job when she was named the Martin County Pork Princess.
“What we did back then was good,” Lori says. “But now the conversations we have are more meaningful.”
After graduating from Truman High School she attended the University of Minnesota in Waseca where she studied to be a veterinary technician. From Waseca, she went to the main campus of the University of Minnesota, and like her future husband, she also received a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science.
“My first job was with
Wayne Feeds in 1986 working in sales,” she remarks. “I covered southeast and south central Minnesota.”
Hubbard acquired Wayne Feeds in 2000 and Lori moved into the marketing department in 2004. Hubbard was purchased by Alltech in 2015.
“I am currently the marketing manager for Hubbard Feeds,” Lori explains. “I oversee all the marketing activities for Hubbard in the U.S., which includes promotion, communication, advertising, products and events.”
The couple met in 1988. Dale was one of the farmers Lori called on through her job with Wayne Feeds. They got married in 1990 and moved to the family farm in 1992 where they raised three children, Brett, Adam and Beth.
As they settled into their married life, Dale became more active in the pork industry.
“It started when I was elected to the Faribault County Pork Producers Board in 1989, I served six years on that board including two as president. I then became a state director,” Dale comments. “Next, I was elected to the state organization’s executive board. I served seven years on that board and held the positions of secretary, vice president before serving as president in 2005.”
And as Dale began curtailing his activities on the Minnesota Pork Board, Lori became more involved.
Lori’s diverse experience, being involved on the farm and having participated in trade shows through her employment with Wayne and Hubbard Feeds, gave her a well-rounded perspective while serving on the Promotion and Image and Pork Congress committees at the state level.
“After that I spent nine years on the Minnesota Pork Producers Association board of directors, including two years as president,” Lori says.
In 2019, she was elected to serve on the National Pork Producers Council board of directors.
“The NPPC is a voluntary organization that deals with public policy regarding government, trade and freedom to operate issues,” Lori explains.
The couple has witnessed many changes in pork promotion during their years of involvement in the industry.
“In the early years we did a lot of grilling and handing out samples of pork,” Lori states. “We were reaching the consumer, but they looked a lot like us.”
As the industry changed and evolved, the methods for interacting with consumers also changed.
“Through more targeted events, such as Oink Outings, consumers have the chance to ask harder, more in-depth questions concerning the pork industry,” Dale says.
And the couple feels that is a good thing.
“We enjoy the opportunity to have deeper conversations with people who have no idea what pork producers do,” Lori shares. “We love to share what we do as pig farmers and be given the chance to interact with the consumers.”
Their involvement in the pork industry has also provided an opportunity for the couple’s children to take an active role in promoting pork.
“All three of our kids competed in the Minnesota Pork Ambassador competition,” Dale says. “And Adam was selected as the first-runner-up.”
Lori says Brett, Adam and Beth have also participated in other events like Oink Outings, Mobile Marketing at the Minnesota State Fair, and the Health and Fitness Expo at Grandma’s Marathon.
All members of the family have completed at least a half-marathon and use their healthy lifestyle as a chance to promote pork.
“We can show people why it is OK for them to enjoy pork as a high protein, nutritious food,” Dale comments. “And give them a social license to enjoy it.”
The Stevermers have done many other things to promote the pork industry.
Dale shares he is especially thankful for the opportunity he had to host Dr. Marilyn Wells, the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Minnesota State University Mankato, for a farm tour.
“She had never been on a farm before,” Dale explains. “So I took the initiative to invite her and her daughter for a farm visit.”
But the work of promoting pork is never done.
“I want to encourage other producers to get involved,” Dale remarks. “There is a lot of misinformation out in the public about farming.”
Lori offered these closing thoughts.
“Farming has changed, business structures have changed,” Lori says. “But we are still your neighbors and are still trying to do the right thing. Clean water, clean air and strong communities are something we all support.”