The Impact and Sustainability of Missouri Pork

OUTdrive Episode 80 with Don Nikodim

OUTdrive Episode 80 with Don Nikodim

Missouri’s pig farmers really know how to bring home the bacon – literally. According to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, in 2016, agriculture, forestry and related industries contributed $88.4 billion of the state’s economy. Pork production alone had about a $1 billion impact on Missouri’s bottom line. For this episode of OUTdrive, I sat down with Don Nikodim, Executive Director of the Missouri Pork Producers Association, to dive into the meat of this industry.

In his nearly 40 years at MPPA, Don has helped expand pork promotion, education and public policy efforts in Missouri. Earlier this year, Don won the Paulson-Whitmore State Executive Award, which recognizes the outstanding leadership and commitment of state pork organization executives. Don has been connected to the pork industry his whole life. Originally from El Dorado Springs, Missouri, he grew up on a diversified farm that included a 30-head sow herd. He went on to earn a degree from the University of Missouri in Agriculture, specializing in Animal Science, Ag Economics and Education. Don had a short stint with the Poland China Swine Record Association and spent a few years teaching high school agriculture classes before starting his role at Missouri Pork in 1983.

Tune into this episode to find out what goes into making Missouri the 7th highest-pork producing state in the nation.


  • 3:00 – Don describes growing up on a diversified farm in El Dorado springs and how it led to pursuing a career in the pork industry.
  • 4:30 – Don reflects on his earliest memories of raising and showing pigs
  • 6:00 – Don and Cliff discuss the changes and trends Don has seen in the Missouri pork industry over the years.
  • 8:15 – How the pork industry plays into Missouri’s #1 economic driver, agriculture.
  • 11:00 – What Don would tell young farmers looking to start raising pigs and the opportunities that are readily available
  • 12:30 – The role that Missouri Pork plays in the Missouri State Fair
  • 16:00 – The types of research Missouri Pork does to better understand the pork consumer
  • 18:45 – Don talks about some of the initiatives he has been involved with over the years he feels had the most impact
  • 21:15 – Don walks Cliff through his day-to-day responsibilities and how it varies from week to week.
  • 25:00 – Don breaks down the innovation, technology, and refined production processes in the agriculture industry
  • 27:00 – Don describes what it’s like working with the people of rural America on a daily basis.