Bill Steenstra, field supervisor for Pipestone System in Independence, Iowa, was named a Master Pork Partner by the Iowa Pork Producers Association at the Iowa Pork Congress Banquet in Des Moines in January 2016. The Master Pork Partner Award recognizes pork production company employees who have demonstrated positive impacts in their production systems and a commitment to the We Care ethical principles, but don’t have active daily roles at a specific production site.
Steenstra is an Edgerton, Minnesota, native who was one of the first employees in the Pipestone System nearly 25 years ago. Throughout his career, he has managed sow farms, nurseries and finishers and is now a field supervisor where he works with 20 employees and growers.
“I started working at Hiawatha, Pipestone’s first barn, as a part time power washer,” said Steenstra. “Over the years, I’ve worked with sows, then in the nurseries and now in the grow-to-finish business.”
He and his family moved to Independence, Iowa, when the branch office opened in 2008 and quickly became an important resource for producers, veterinarians and many others in northeast Iowa.
Steenstra was recognized with the Master Pork Partner award for his work in helping pork producers improve their operations in a number of ways.
“Year after year, he impresses pig producers with his knowledge, experience and sincere efforts to help them improve their production practices,” said Dr. Barry Kerkaert. “I don’t know of one client that he visited and didn’t help improve performance or management of the pigs.”
“The combination Steenstra’s innate sense for reading animal behavior and his experience with multiple aspects of the Pipestone System is a valuable asset,” said Dr. Kerkaert.
“He has an advantage in understanding all stages of raising pigs and knows that everyone must work together to provide the best care for animals and produce the best product,” he said.
He was nominated for the award by staff and veterinarians at the Independence clinic. Dr. Kerkaert noted that Steenstra has often taken newly-hired veterinarians under his wing.
“While veterinarians get top-notch education and training in school, they don’t always get the hands-on experience that they need to provide the best service to our clients,” he said. “Bill has taught many of our veterinarians the basics of good pigmanship.”
The award nomination highlighted that Steenstra helps producers with nearly all aspects of pork production, including sorting, treating, developing manure management plans, manure pump-out safety, health management, animal handling and other daily management.
Steenstra is a certified PQA (Pork Quality Assurance) and TQA (Transport Quality Assurance) advisor and trainer, helping to educate farmers and truckers in the Pipestone System and beyond on the standards for food safety, animal well-being, and record-keeping. In the past three years, he has completed 400 assessments at farms across Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.
Steenstra sees the value that the Pipestone System has brought to the industry and producers over the past 25 years.
“We’ve played a key role in helping independent pork producers remain independent and give them new opportunities,” said Steenstra.
Bill is committed to community efforts through volunteer maintenance and vacation bible school assistance at his church. He goes out of his way to help those producers or neighbors in times of need.
Steenstra and his wife, Kim, have two daughters.