The pork industry gathered together at the National Pork Industry Forum on Thursday to recognize former Texas Pork Producers Association executive vice president Ken Horton with the Paulson-Whitmore State Executive Award.
The National Pork Producers Council joined the National Pork Board to present Horton with this award, named after former Minnesota and Wisconsin Executive Directors Don Paulson and Rex Whitmore, for his outstanding leadership and commitment as a state executive.
Horton led the Texas Pork Producers Association for 36 years until his retirement in 2013. A south Texas native, he was active in Future Farmers of America, attended Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M) and worked at a farrow-to-finish enterprise based at a children's home, where he also counseled children. He moved into the role of farm manager, in charge of all livestock and row-crop production. Shortly after graduation, he joined the Texas Pork Producers Association as its first full-time director in 1977.
His first mission as director was to visit farms all over the state to generate support for the recently established checkoff. He’s known for his ability to listen and empathize with hog farmers' challenges and successes, helping him build strong relationships throughout his state and country.
"Ken Horton is a well-respected, strong leader for U.S. pork producers who has tirelessly advocated for our industry for more than 35 years," said NPPC CEO Neil Dierks in a NPPC release. "He has always been generous with his time, eager to meet with students, lawmakers and anyone with an interest in agriculture to showcase the importance of U.S. pork production. For his numerous years of service and commitment to ensuring future generations of hog farmers, NPPC and the Pork Board are pleased to present Ken with this well-deserved award."
Horton advocated for common-sense, trucking regulation to facilitate the efficient transport of hogs around the state. He educated state lawmakers about pork production practices and promoted environmental stewardship. He always shad his eye out on the next generation of hog farmers, partnering every year with Texas A&M professors to teach high school kids about pork production.
“Without the association executives in your state and at the national level, we couldn’t get the work done we do,” he told the crowd of pork producers and colleagues at the National Pork Industry Forum.
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