Grohmann Uses Data to Move Pork Industry Forward

( Provided by Caleb Grohmann )

Meet Caleb Grohmann, our latest addition to Farm Journal's PORK's Up & Coming Leaders feature. We are showcasing some of the fresh, new voices of the pork industry who combine innovative thought and work ethic with scientific savvy and a passion to make a difference. 

Age: 24
Education: Bachelor’s degree, University of Missouri-Columbia; master’s degree, University of Illinois; currently pursuing Ph.D. in informatics and data science at the University of Missouri 
Hometown: Red Bud, Ill.

Q. What led you to a career in the swine industry?
I grew up on Cedar Ridge Farms, Inc., where we have raised commercial purebred swine for over 60 years. I have been in pig barns since I could walk, and my upbringing at Cedar Ridge kindled and fueled my passion for the commercial swine industry.

Q. Describe any internship experiences you’ve had. 
I have been fortunate enough to participate in three internship programs with The Maschhoff’s, LLC. In the summer of 2016 and 2017, I was an intern within the genetics and supply chain departments, respectively. In the summer of 2019, I completed an internship in the research and innovation department as a part of my master’s program through Dr. Michael Ellis at the University of Illinois.

Q. Describe your undergraduate research experiences.
I aided in a pork quality trial during my undergrad years at the University of Missouri that assessed the effect of different feeding programs on the intramuscular fat content of Duroc-sired crossbred pigs.

Q. How did you gain swine experience?
I gained a passion for exhibiting purebred pigs while growing up on Cedar Ridge Farms. I was actively involved as a member of the National Junior Swine Association (NJSA) and garnered an interest in evaluating pigs for phenotypic and genetic merit. After my time as an exhibitor, I served on the NJSA Junior Board of Directors, with the chief goal of connecting NJSA members with the numerous career paths within the commercial swine industry.

Q. Tell us about your current research.
The swine industry is becoming increasingly data-centric, with multitudes of new data points generated daily in all sectors of the production and marketing chain. Whether it’s analyzing genetic marker information within populations of pigs or analyzing high-dimensional datasets that relate to the many bio-economic relationships that impact pork production, my goal is to provide ground-breaking insights into the pork business (founded on advanced analytical methods) that move the industry forward.

Q. What is your generation’s greatest challenge?
Volatility touches all sectors of the swine industry. For example, in the face of African swine fever and a global pandemic, the swine industry has experienced one of the most volatile periods in our history, with high mountains and even lower valleys. Coupled with uncertainties about the availability of labor forces in pig barns and uncertainty about international avenues to market U.S. pork, young individuals entering the swine industry are forced to adapt to an ever-changing business climate. The key for my generation of pork producers will be identifying strategies to increase the stability of organizations in which they are a stakeholder in order to maximize the longevity and sustainability of the broader swine industry as a whole.

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