NTF chair urges 'common sense' in facing challenges

by Bryan Salvage
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TUCSON – Rick Huisinga, executive vice president of Willmar Poultry Company, Willmar, Minn., was elected by the National Turkey Federation’s board of directors during its annual convention in Tucson to serve as NTF’s 2011 chairman. Huisinga urged members to use common sense in addressing future challenges.

“I’m a pragmatic person and I believe that using common sense and simply doing the right thing will serve us well to mitigate the numerous regulatory and legislative issues our industry will continue to face in this strange political climate,” Huisinga said during his acceptance speech. “Whether it is talking about environmental stewardship, the responsible use of antibiotics or food safety practices, we can all do the right thing by being a part of the public affairs process.”

Regulatory and legislative challenges that will confront the turkey industry, including antibiotic use in animal agriculture; food safety; environmental regulations; the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration proposed marketing rule; and renewable fuels policy, were covered in detail by Huisinga. He stressed the importance of being engaged in NTF by saying, “The best way to ensure we do the right thing is to continue to collaborate, communicate and coordinate on many of the items I’ve just discussed.”

Huisinga began his career at Willmar Poultry Company in 1983 in the research and development department after attending school in California and at the University of Minnesota. At Willmar Poultry, Huisinga’s passion and dedication are focused on providing the turkey industry with innovative products, technologies and techniques for the future.

In addition to serving on NTF’s executive committee and board of directors, Huisinga is also on Minnesota Turkey Growers Association’s Breeder Hen and Research Funding committees and is a member of the general conference committee on the National Poultry Improvement Plan.

Willmar Poultry Company has been breeding, hatching, growing and processing turkeys, plus developing and producing hatchery automation machines and food-safety vaccines, since 1945.

Steve Willardsen, president, Cargill Value Added Meats, as vice chairman; and John Burkel, director, Northern Pride Inc., was also elected as secretary-treasurer. Yubert Envia, vice president of turkey and prepared foods, Foster Farms, became immediate past chairman.

During the annual convention, the board also reelected Gary Cooper, Cooper Farms; Jihad Douglas, Aviagen Turkeys; Paul Hill, West Liberty Foods; Ron Prestage, Prestage Farms; John Reicks, Sara Lee Food and Beverage; Ted Seger, Farbest Foods, Inc.; and Carl Wittenburg, Protein Alliance Inc., to the executive committee. The board elected Jim Leighton, Perdue Farms, Inc., to his first term as an EC member.

Elected EC members appointed Jeff Sveen, Dakota Provisions, to the executive committee.
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