Niman Ranch 22nd Annual Hog Farmer Appreciation Celebration Features All-Star Lineup in First Ever Virtual Dinner, Panels, Awards, Farm Tour

DENVER–Niman Ranch, the premier sustainable and humane meat leader, will be celebrating their network of independent family farmers and the sustainable agriculture community with a series of virtual events from August 5th to September 11th. Highlights of the event series include:

  • A keynote panel featuring Michael Pollan, celebrated author of the Omnivore’s Dilemma, in conversation with Paul Willis, Niman Ranch’s founding hog farmer, Dawn Sherman, CEO of Native American Natural Foods, and Danielle Nierenberg, co-founder and president of Food Tank.
  • A virtual cooking class with seven Michelin Star-recognized chef Thomas Keller.
  • Remarks from renowned animal-welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin.
  • A series of educational panels featuring some of the country’s leading thinkers on food and farming systems and what we can expect in our uncertain future.
  • An awards ceremony for Niman Ranch farmers, including the announcement of scholarships granted to young farmers from Niman Ranch’s Next Generation Foundation.

Niman Ranch has held an annual celebration of its hog farmer community for the past 22 years. What started as a small dinner among farmers and friends has grown over the years to a larger event in Des Moines, IA spanning several days and featuring educational panel discussions, farm tours, farmer awards, scholarship announcements and an unforgettable multi-course meal prepared by some of the country’s most celebrated chefs.

“This annual celebration is truly a highlight for the Niman Ranch community and it’s important that we honor our farmers after a year like no other,” said Paul Willis. “This spring, all of us were especially thankful for the Niman Ranch model as we watched the industrial agriculture system struggle due to COVID-19 disruptions. We remained resilient and provided important stability and reassurance for our farmers. During these tumultuous times, we are grateful for the community of farmers, customers, partners and friends who together encapsulate the values of Niman Ranch.”

With the transition of the annual event to a virtual experience, for the first time ever, the general public is invited to participate in this special event. All programming is at no cost to participants except for the Culinary Experiences, which include a meal box shipped direct to doorsteps. All proceeds go to support the Niman Ranch Next Generation Foundation, which provides scholarships to the children of Niman Ranch farmers and ranchers to help them return to the farm and continue traditional and sustainable farming practices. Since its establishment in 2006, the Next Generation Foundation has awarded 273 scholarships to young farmers and future sustainable agriculture leaders.

Those interested in participating in the Niman Ranch Hog Farmer Appreciation Celebration can learn more at A full list of events can be found below:

SCHEDULE: 22nd Annual Niman Ranch Hog Farmer Appreciation Celebration

Wednesday, Aug. 5 
12:00-1:00 pmPanel: The Future of Restaurants
 Panelists: Jeff Amoscato (Shake Shack), Chef Stephen Jones (The Larder + The Delta), Chef Mary Sue Milliken (Socalo, Border Grill restaurants and catering, and BBQ Mexicana), Bruce Reinstein (Kinetic 12)
 Moderator: Caity Moseman Wadler (Heritage Radio Network)
Wednesday, Aug. 12 
12:00-1:00 pm CTPanel: The Future of Grocery Retail
 Panelists: Chris DuBois (IRI), Marc Jonna (Plum Market), Kevin Kelley (Shook Kelley), Michael Salguero (ButcherBox)
 Moderator: Joe Fassler (The Counter)
Wednesday, Aug. 19 
12:00-1:00 pm CTPanel: Improving Farm Animal Welfare – Levers for Change
 Panelists: Celize Christy (Practical Farmers of Iowa), Rachel Dreskin (Compassion in World Farming), Maisie Ganzler (Bon Appetit Management Company), John Gilbert (Niman Ranch)
 Moderator: Naomi Starkman (Civil Eats)
Thursday, Aug. 20 
7:30-8:30 pm CTVirtual Class: Build Your Own Charcuterie Board
 Instructor: Chef Kelly Whitaker (Id Est Hospitality Group)
Wednesday, Aug.26 
12:00-1:00 pm CTChef Panel: Restaurant Resilience
 Panelists: Chef Anita Cartagena (Protea – Yountville), Elizabeth Falkner (chef, author, artist), Chef Niven Patel (Ghee – Miami), Chef Rachel Yang (Joule, Revel – Seattle)
 Moderator: Katherine Miller (James Beard Foundation)
Tuesday, Sept. 8 
12:00-1:15 pm CTPanel: Resilience vs Efficiency – Finding a Balance in the Food Sector
 Panelists: Michael Pollan (author), Paul Willis (Niman Ranch), Dawn Sherman (Native American Natural Foods, Tanka)
 Moderator: Danielle Nierenberg (Food Tank)
Thursday, Sept. 10 
12:00-1:00 pm CTNiman Ranch Farmer Panel: Farm Resilience
 Moderator: Delaney Howell (Ag News Daily)
7:00-8:15 pm CTVirtual Hog Farmer Appreciation Dinner
 Instructor: Chef Thomas Keller
8:30-9:15 pm CTKeynote
 Keynote Speaker: Dr. Temple Grandin
Friday, Sept. 11 
12:00-1:00 pm CTVirtual Niman Ranch Hog Farm Tour – Live