Career Focused on Building Understanding Makes Significant Impact on U.S. and Global Pork Industry

Dr. Ron Plain, professor emeritus and extension economist in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Missouri- Columbia, was recognized as National Pork Board’s Distinguished Service Award recipient at the 2023 Pork Forum.

A Passion for Education and Helping Pig Farmers

Plain, who started his career as a high school agricultural education instructor, spent most of his professional career focused on helping producers understand the economic forces related to their pork production business.

Plain’s career in academia began just before the farm crisis and the major changes to the pork industry. During his 35 years as a professor and extension economist, Plain made more than 2,100 presentations to U.S. farm audiences and also traveled internationally, sharing his insight on how to manage pig farming as a business.

Missouri Pork Association Executive Director Don Nikodim, who grew up with Plain and taught agricultural education with him, said Plain made an incredible impact on the industry.

“He helped people understand their pig farm is a business,” Nikodim said. “Ron was always smart. He’s always willing to share his expertise and knowledge base to help people be better at what they do.”

University of Missouri colleague Tim Safranski noted Plain’s breadth of knowledge and ability to communicate clearly is admired by colleagues and appreciated by producers.

“Ron was in his role to serve [and] I’ve found very few things that he has not thought about,” Safranski said.

Making an Impact

Plain credits producers for collaborating together to make an impact on the industry. “They ask good questions. The hog producers I talk to—they’re good people doing important things.”

The Distinguished Service Award is selected by past presidents of NPB and recognizes individuals who have made invaluable contributions to the pork industry and have gone above and beyond what is expected of them.