On Thursday morning, June 4, a line of women snaked out of the National Pork Board tent on the Iowa State Fairgrounds concourse in Des Moines. Inside was Chris Soules, star of three reality television shows -- The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Dancing with the Stars -- and now a bachelor farmer growing corn and soybeans and raising hogs in Iowa.
I sat down with Soules to talk about the America’s Pig Farmer of the Year award he helped the Pork Board promote this year.
First -- about Whitney Bischoff, his ex-fiancé from The Bachelor -- Soules said the decision to break off the engagement last month had nothing to do with his farm or whether she wanted to be a farmer's wife. The relationship just ran its course and fizzled out. "We are still friends," he said. There were enough attractive young farm women standing in line for a selfie with Soules, his prospects didn't seem dire.
Now, on to pork production. Soules and his family feed 20,000 pigs a year on contract to TriOak Foods. Last winter he met with the Pork Board about being a spokesperson for the new pig farmer award. "I am somewhat famous," he said, "and that gives me a great platform to connect to consumers."
He says his time in the celebrity spotlight showed him "how little understanding people had of what we did in farming." He wants to help change that. "We have a great story to tell and farmers are not always willing to tell it."
All types of hog farms were welcome to enter the new award (applications are now closed), and Soules said he hopes all producers feel they are an important part of the pork industry. He pointed out that his sister raises grass-fed beef. "It takes every kind of farmer to feed hungry people," said Soules.
During our interview, a man interrupted Soules for an autograph. He said his friend worked at a packing plant in Columbus Junction and "she saw your pigs come in one day and freaked out." She couldn't attend Pork Expo because she had to work. Soules asked her name and then spent a few minutes composing a lengthy note to this woman, who is probably freaking out again today after receiving his note.
You may catch Soules later on another reality TV series. Stay tuned. No matter where he goes, he will have agriculture and food production in mind.