Jeri Westra retired this fall, but that only means he can concentrate his energies on farming.
After a long career in the swine industry, working 35 years for what is now Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls, the South Dakota Pork Producers Council will recognize Westra with the Friends of the Industry Award during Master Pork Producers Banquet Jan. 15.
The Friends of the Industry Award recognizes state individuals, leaders or businesses for their continued support of the pork industry.
Westra was raised on a diversified livestock and grain farm northeast of Centerville, South Dakota. The Westra family has always focused on raising and feeding livestock. Jeri bought his first hogs at Centerville Livestock in 1970, and he said it was the beginning of his love for the swine industry.
A graduate of South Dakota State University, Westra earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science in 1976. Following college, his career began with positions at IBP, Clougherty Packing, Sioux Falls Stockyards, and finally, John Morrell. He remained with the company in various positions for the past 35 years, most recently as head of hog procurement for Smithfield Foods. In 2017, he was recognized as South Dakota Honorary Master Pork Producer.
During his career in the swine industry, Westra has been involved in Pork Producers, along with supporting Lincoln County 4-H and FFA, the SDSU Pork Classic, and the donation of pork for the South Dakota State Fair. He has also held positions on the local elevator board, Center of Hope and at Delaware Reformed Church.
His retirement in October has allowed Westra to concentrate on farming full time.
Westra said he is enjoying the opportunity to join his wife Jo and follow the many activities of their their grandchildren. Their four children and families all live nearby in the immediate Centerville area,
He has found a new love for reading in the past two months, he said, and he is looking for his next book about the former leaders and history of our great nation. He is a loyal SDSU football and basketball fan. “Go Jacks!” he said.