HARRISONBURG, VA.- Farmer Focus announced on May 17 that it reached the operational milestone of 5 million man-hours without an OSHA-lost workday injury.

Farmer Focus also stated that its total recordable injury rate of .80 was well below the industry standard of 3.5.

Along with the worker safety update, the company said it would bring on Stephen Shepard as the next executive vice president of operations. Shepard has worked in poultry plants and farm operations for more than 15 years.

While working in the role Shepard will oversee farm operations, plant operations and environmental health and safety teams. Specifically, Shepard will prioritize creating more efficient processes while improving the company’s safety record and continuing the focus on employee wellbeing and workforce development.

“Stephen brings with him a wealth of knowledge across the entire poultry supply chain and a true passion for the culture of servant leadership that we have developed at Farmer Focus,” said Erik Vaughan, Farmer Focus president and chief operating officer. “His leadership will help us ensure that we continue to foster a culture that values worker and farmer welfare as we expand our production capabilities and prepare for more growth.”

Before joining Farmer Focus, Shepard held positions in plant and farm operations at Pilgrim's Pride and Miller Poultry. Additionally, Farm Animal Care Training and Auditing’s director of Poultry Auditing and Training, Shepard worked and assisted to originate some of the first poultry animal welfare audits to receive Professional Animal Auditor Certification in the United States.

“Coming from a family with a multi-generational history of farming that has dwindled to just a few farmers, I am passionate about the mission at Farmer Focus to protect generational family farming,” Shepard said. “I am humbled to have the opportunity to join this exceptional team of servant leaders and am deeply committed to lifting up our farmers and our plant workers by creating an efficient, safe and supportive environment to grow and thrive.”