20th Hog Farmer Appreciation Dinner
September 28, 2018
It isn’t every day you get to throw a big party to thank the farmers who grow our food! At Niman Ranch we get to do it every year, and have been doing it for 20 years!
This year’s celebration was the biggest yet with more than 600 farmers, industry experts, journalists, thought leaders, chefs and restaurateurs, distributors, grocers, customers and partners at the sold-out event at the Embassy Suites in downtown Des Moines, Iowa.
The evening honors the community of hog farmers who supply Niman Ranch and recognizes their dedication to raising animals traditionally, humanely and sustainably to produce the finest tasting meat. Most of our guests who attend the dinner are the farm families.
The meal and event signifies the connection between the farmer, the chef and the dinner table, an authentic farm-to-table celebration that features a highly selective group of top chefs who come to share their culinary talents to create a memorable multi-course dinner featuring the farmers’ high-quality pork, beef and lamb. They cook for the hundreds of farmers in the Niman Ranch network and bring a piece of their award-winning restaurants and renowned recipes full circle.
This year’s dinner program featured the multi-generational families in our farming, distribution, processing and ownership and ended with a commitment to double our farming and ranching community in the next decade to support rural America and meet consumer demand.
One of the highlights of the night was hearing from sixth-generation farmer and previous scholarship awardee, Aaron Williams, and his father Bruce. Aaron said that customers buying Niman products don’t just benefit one or two people or a corporation, but all 750+ families in the Niman Ranch network. He credited the growing demand from some of the people in the audience and other loyal Niman Ranch customers to his ability to succeed. “You don’t know how grateful we are to have such great customers,” he said. “Niman Ranch allowed me to come home and farm – which I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.” Aaron returned to his family’s farm, inspired by the ways his family’s past generations lived and taught. He went on to say, “I am now growing my business to where I want it to be so that I can maybe someday, down the road, pass on my operation to my son/daughter.” Aaron concluded by saying, “It’s more rewarding than it is burdensome to think that my grandpa and his grandpa were on the same land and that provided them their livelihood for their family. And now I get to do that…and maybe pass farming on to my grandkids someday. That brings a lot of pride to what I do every day.”
In addition to the dinner, there was a farm tour, education summit, farmer meetings, quality awards, 32 scholarship winners and more. Until next year…