David Newman, meat scientist at Arkansas State University, is one of the voices of Meat Matters, a new column, in Farm Journal’s PORK. He shares his thoughts on educating students, his interest in efficiency of meat production research, and what readers can expect from his column in 2019.
Q. Tell us about your background.
A. I grew up on a diversified livestock operation in Myrtle, Mo. My family has been in the pork business for over 50 years and we now own a meat business in conjunction with our farming operation. My wife Kristin and I own and manage the business today. Aside from our farming business, I am an associate professor of animal sciences at Arkansas State University and currently serve as vice president of the National Pork Board.
Q. What’s a typical day on the job like for you?
A. A typical day on the job for me is very diverse. In my role as an animal science instructor, I work to provide students with modern relevant information that they can use to increase their knowledge, improve their skills, and apply this information in a career. This is across a wide spectrum of coursework ranging from meat science to swine production. My research program in meat science has mostly been centered around meat quality, with retail meat quality being an emphasis over the past several years. Daily activities might include sorting livestock classes, harvesting and fabricating livestock, or working in my lab on gathering meat quality data. I also work collaboratively on projects relating to new technologies in the pork business. It is important that we train undergraduate and graduate students to be critical thinkers who can help lead our industry in the future.
In my role as a pork producer and business owner, it’s something different every minute. I may be sorting livestock, managing records, working with chefs on menu creation, managing HR issues or working on equipment. You never know what your day is actually going to be like managing a farming operation, but you can be certain hard work is going to be involved!
Q. What can PORK readers expect out of your columns this year?
A. Readers can expect to gain informative information relative to the pork industry and meat science. It is my goal that anyone reading the column can take away useful, relevant information that can be applied in the pork industry somewhere between the production site and a consumer’s plate.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?
A. I love that I am able to be involved in agriculture every single day. I am deeply humbled by the opportunities I have been given in my life to have this unique opportunity to work in education, research and the livestock industry. I love the fact that I get the opportunity to share my love for agriculture with my children, my students and just about anyone else who will listen.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A. It was a great piece of advice from my dad, "The only job where you start at the top and work your way down is digging a post hole.”
Q. When you aren’t at work, what do you enjoy doing for fun?
A. I enjoy spending time with my family. I am blessed to have a great wife and two wonderful children – Cody, 6, and Ava, 3, who keep me focused on what is the most important. We love living in the Ozarks and taking in the local river we live near with friends and family. We also love to travel and when I am lucky enough to get a North Dakota pheasant hunt in, it never disappoints.
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