It’s been a big year for Chris Soules. The 33-year-old reality star – dubbed “Prince Farming” – became a household name while trying to find his soul mate on ABC’s “The Bachelor.” From there he continued to win fans over with his slick moves on “Dancing With the Stars,” and his stint as a competitor on Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America.” So what is Soules up to now? He’s using his fame to help promote his first love: pig farming.
That’s right, heartthrob Chris Soules is passionate about pigs. Hailing from Lamont, Iowa, Soules briefly traded in farm life for an opportunity to find a wife. While that didn’t pan out with Season 19 winner Whitney Bischoff, Soules is returning to his roots and teaming up with the National Pork Board.
“I’ve been involved in pig farming most of my life,” Soules explained to International Business Times. “I raised my first pig at an early age. I’ve had ties to the pig industry ever since then, and after coming off all these shows I was given a platform to be able to speak on behalf of agriculture and felt the responsibility to do that.”
While Soules is the one that has been “judged” on reality TV, he was given a chance to sit in the judges seat to pick the National Pork Board’s first ever America’s Pig Farmer of the Year winner – a title that went to Tipton, Indiana, pig farmer Keith Schoettmer.
“It’s the perfect fit for me because this is my passion,” Soules said of working alongside the National Pork Board. “This is what I do, what I’ve done most of my life. And it’s an exciting thing to be a part of and to be able to introduce everybody to Keith.”
Schoettmer founded his family’s farm – Schoettmer Prime Pork – with his wife Darla in 1987. According to the Pig Farmer of the Year winner, they bring approximately 23,000 pigs to market annually.
But what exactly is pig farming? Schoettmer says the job entails raising a safe, nutritious and sustainable product for consumers around the world.
“We’re equally as concerned as everybody is about the nutrition of our product, to be healthy,” Schoettmer explained. And the first step in that is animal welfare.
“Pig farmers and farmers in general are very interested in animal welfare. They’re experts at it,” he told IBT. “We take that responsibility very, very seriously. Our passion is to raise a pig that’s comfortable every day; and that we know that the product that we put on the market is going to be safe because we work very hard at keeping that pig healthy and comfortable.”
Ultimately there comes a point where the farmers have to part with the pigs they raise, and Chris Soules can admit that in the past he has developed an emotional attachment to one.
“The first pig that I had was a mother pig that we raised her babies,” he said of his first pork love. “That was the first pig that I had an emotional attachment to -- first and only.”
It’s the circle of life for the pig farming industry. And while it may be hard to say goodbye to some of the pigs on their farms, Soules and Schoettmer hope to use their new platform with the National Pork Board to inform consumers about the pride that pig farmers take in their work.
“We want to let people know how their food is raised,” Schoettmer explained of his new duty as Pig Farmer of the Year. “So they know how much we care about what we’re doing, the passion that we have and our desire to give them a safe product every time.”
Pass the bacon.