MO pork executive reflects on 40 years of leadership

After more than 40 years serving Missouri’s pork industry, the executive director of Missouri Pork is retiring.

Don Nikodim tells Brownfield over that time, he’s seen many changes in the pork industry, including the way producers conduct business and the way hogs are raised.

“I grew up raising pigs in dirt lots when I was in high school and college. Now, producers use climate controlled facilities and it’s more friendly in all aspects.”

Production practices could continue to evolve as state regulations, like the Proposition 12 law, go into effect. But Nikodim says it’s hard to know what will happen to the U.S. pork industry because of that law.

“From our perspective, Prop 12 has nothing to do with humanely raising pigs, it’s got to do with people advocating for people not to eat pork at all,” he says. “There’s going to be a niche there available for some time for people who want to produce in California standards and once the niche gets big, it can lose value. We have to be careful about that as well.”

Nikodim’s leadership is being recognized by state officials. Missouri Ag Director Chris Chinn says he has made a positive impact on the state’s agriculture industry.

“We fondly refer to Nikodim as the godfather of the agricultural organizations,” says Chinn. “Anytime something comes about, we talk to him about it and he’s like: we had that issue. We’ve done it. Here’s what you do and he’s always been the calm, steady voice of reason. We’ll truly miss his leadership.”

Nikodim says he’s optimistic the next leader of Missouri Pork will continue to focus on how to improve all aspects of the pork industry.

“One of the great things about people in our industry is that when they get together, they talk about ways to continue to get better.”

Missouri Pork Chairman Adam Dohrman says the board would like to name a new executive director by the end of the year. Nikodim will retire at the end of January 2024.

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