Thiele Takes On Leadership of Iowa Pork Producers Association

( Jennifer Shike, Farm Journal's PORK )

This week, Trent Thiele is taking over the reins as president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA), the largest state pork organization in the U.S. He’s hailed by his peers as a first-class pork producer, but more importantly, as a first-class dad. 

And some believe this will be a key component of his future success.

“Trent Thiele is a thoughtful pork producer leader representing the best interest of family farmers and all segments of producers,” says Gregg Hora, 2018 IPPA president. “His heart is with his family and business partners which are the backbone of why he will be a great president. Also, his willingness to participate in community and school-based activities talking about pork production is as impactful as his overseas pork mission trips meeting our consumers and our export partners.”

Thiele grew up on a dairy farm less than two miles from where he and his family live today. His family had 80 sows for a period of time during his childhood, but eventually dispersed the sow herd. He worked for 10 years at his local elevator. During that time, he impressed area farmers with his drive and determination.

When Max Schmidt of KMAX Farms started looking for an employee to help run his farming operation, Thiele was the local favorite. Theile didn’t have a problem saying yes.

“What 27-year-old wouldn’t want to go farm?” Trent asks. 

Part of his draw to get into pork production centered around his desire to provide his children, ages 13, 11 and 9, the opportunity to grow up on a farm. 

“Being a pig farmer is a great lifestyle,” Trent says. “The opportunity to raise my kids in this way is a blessing. I don’t take that for granted.”

He and his wife of 15 years, Kristina, are also foster parents and have fostered six kids to date. They are also hosting a 17-year-old foreign exchange student this year.   

“The kids and I will be supporting Trent as he helps lead the pork industry in this new role, because that’s what families do,” Kristina Theile says. "The kids realize that their dad’s passion for the industry provides them with the life they love on the farm helping their dad with chores, driving the tractor, baling square bales and helping with the pigs. This is exactly what we hoped our kids would get to experience on the farm.”

With his partners’ support, Trent said yes when he was approached about joining the IPPA leadership team. Over the years, he has become more and more impressed with the willingness of Iowa pork producers to openly share knowledge and experiences.

Al Wulfekuhle, a past president of IPPA, says Trent's desire to learn from everyone he meets and use it to improve not just his farming operation, but also his leadership skills, will serve him well in the role of president.

Thiele says he’s looking forward to addressing the opportunities and challenges IPPA faces. One of his first goals is to strengthen grassroots communication in order to bring more voices to the table to help make decisions for the largest pork-producing state in the country.

“We’re all fighting the same battles,” Thiele says. “No matter what happens, we’re all in it together.”

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