Committed to pork: Columbus man eager to head Nebraska organization

March 5, 2019

John Csukker never thought he’d end up spending the last 27 years in Columbus, but he said he has enjoyed the life he has created for himself in the pork industry.

The environmental service manager for The Maschhoffs was elected as president-elect for Nebraska Pork Producers Association at its annual meeting recently. Csukker has served on the board of directors since 2015 and will head the organization in 2020.

The NPPA is an incorporated, nonprofit organization established in 1961 that represents the interests of all of the pork producers in the state. Tim Chancellor of Broken Bow was recently elected president of the organization. Csukker will learn the ropes from Chancellor and said he hopes to prepare himself for a smooth transition.

“Hopefully, when the next year comes, I’ll be hitting the ground with the feet running, so there’s no ramp-up of learning capacity. People will know who I am,” Csukker said. “I just want to represent everybody in Nebraska. I think Nebraska is the place to be with raising hogs.”

Csukker is originally from Fairfax, Minnesota, and moved to Columbus in 1992. He said he enjoys the life he’s made for himself in the pork industry and wants to help the NPPA grow.

“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to be a part of - the organization. I like the hog industry. I like the people in it,” Csukker said. “This industry is down to earth. Pretty casual, just get your feet wet and get to work. And over the years being here I just felt like I wanted to give back.”

Al Juhnke of Lincoln serves as the NPPA’s executive director. He said Csukker fits the leadership role, isn’t shy, speaks up at meetings and is willing to ask questions. He added that Csukker is the kind of guy a person would want to grab a hamburger and beer with after work.

“His peers on the board chose him to do this job, so he’s got the respect of the other members of the board,” Juhnke said. “He’s got a very strong environmental science background ... And we need that expertise on the board, it’s really helpful.”

One of Csukker’s main concerns regarding the pork industry is the potential spread of African swine fever since there’s a high mortality rate for pigs and no cure. Another concern is with exports. Csukker said about 25 percent of all pork produced in the country is exported. This is a change from the 1980s when the United States was more of an importer rather than exporter.

Csukker said Americans consume about 50 pounds of pork per year, while people in China consume about 90, adding that places like Japan and Mexico are huge markets for U.S. pork. So trade is a huge issue for the NPPA and will be a focus of Csukker as president-elect and eventually, president.

NPPA was developed to promote the pork industry through the enhancement of consumer demand, producer education and research. For more information, visit NPPA’s website at www.NEpork.org.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.