Impacting a broad range of livestock production in the swine, sheep and llama industries, Darrell D. Anderson has been dedicated to developing the next generation of livestock leaders.
Born 1949 | Artist: Richard Steward Halstead (born 1947)
Impact & Accomplishments
Darrell D. Anderson of West Lafayette, IN has contributed to the livestock industry in six different arenas, including breeding Suffolk sheep; creating the National Swine Registry and directing Yorkshire, Duroc, Hampshire, and Landrace breeds; creating the National Junior Suffolk Sheep Association and the National Junior Swine Association; breeding llamas; auctioneering; and hiring, mentoring, and developing the next generation of livestock leaders.
Anderson grew up on a family farm in southwest Minnesota and attended South Dakota State University. After graduation, he worked in a variety of jobs, including serving as the Extension director in Cottonwood County, Minnesota.
“Anderson’s list of contributions to agriculture and the purebred livestock industry is extensive, diversified and impressive,” says Dr. Ken Culp, III, chairman of Anderson’s nominating committee.
His involvement as a breed secretary, chief executive officer, judge, auctioneer, and breeder has impacted thousands of lives of people in multiple breeds and species, his nominators shared. In addition, he hired and mentored an entire generation of interns and staff, who are now serving in influential leadership roles, impacting animal agriculture, creating a lasting legacy and serving the industry.
Anderson was the youngest breeder to serve as the president of the National Suffolk Sheep Association and led the association during its greatest period of growth (in both registrations and memberships). He served as secretary for the National Sheep Improvement Program in 1986. Anderson held a very successful annual production Sale of Champions, where many champions were sold, including back-to-back Grand Champions at AK-SAR-BEN.
In 1987, Anderson was hired as the executive secretary of the American Yorkshire Club, where he innovated and implemented the Tested Best Show at the World Pork Expo in 1988, guiding the practical application of Swine Testing And Genetic Evaluation System (STAGES) and using the Across-Herd Sire Summary to prove the superiority and impact of a significant sire, U Ulf 166. Ulf made the biggest impact on the Yorkshire breed and is generally considered the most influential boar in the breed’s history.
Some would say his greatest contribution to the swine industry began in 1994 as he shepherded the Yorkshire, Duroc, Hampshire breeds through the formative years of the National Swine Registry, and in 1998, bringing in the Landrace breed.
"His vision to guide NSR through its early, turbulent, formative years was keen; and his steady hand provided a calming force while steering the organization and keeping it on course," his nominators shared. "He was challenged to make everyone see the long-term value of the decision to form NSR. The decision was very controversial in some camps."
Anderson has also made a tremendous impact as both a breeder and auctioneer in the llama industry. As an auctioneer, he has sold most of the highest averaging and highest grossing llama and alpaca sales in the U.S. in history. The Andersons developed a nationally competitive herd of llamas and have claimed championship honors in many state competitions and national shows.
Additionally, they created the March Llama Madness (MLM) Show and Sale of Champions in 2013. Held annually, the show has grown about 20% each year and has become the largest llama show in the country. MLM was cancelled in 2020, due to COVID-19. However, as a true innovator and curve bender, the Andersons hosted the first-ever virtual llama show; transitioning MLM to the March Llama Madness Showdown. The 2022 Sale of Champions set new records for the numbers of participants, gross sale price, sale averages, and individual prices.
He’s generously shared his expertise with other breed associations and served in a variety of leadership positions on the National Livestock and Meat Board, the National Swine Improvement Federation, the National Pedigreed Livestock Council, the National Pork Producers Council, the United States Livestock Genetic Exports and the National Pork Board. Anderson received the 2016 Pork Industry Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the swine industry.
After attending his first National Pedigreed Livestock Council meeting in 1987, Anderson said he realized that the challenges and obstacles facing most breed registries have nothing to do with the animals, but everything to do with the breeders, board members and staff. His ability to build relationships and forge bonds among breeders and member with differing viewpoints is impressive and legendary, his nominators shared.
Anderson’s passion for helping and engaging young people is evident through the programs he initiated during his career. As president of the National Suffolk Sheep Association, he identified the need to create the National Junior Suffolk Sheep Association. Those experiences would guide him when he replicated the process at the NSR, creating the National Junior Swine Association (NJSA).
The NJSA is testament to Anderson’s vision during his tenure as NSR CEO. NSR’s long-range strategic plan identified the need for a youth program. The NJSA was created, introduced, and has become one of the greatest success stories in animal agriculture today.
The introduction of the NJSA totally revolutionized the function of NSR, introducing junior shows and increasing youth involvement exponentially. Junior memberships and shows provided a big influx of income and work for NSR. Two additional staff positions were added. The additional exhibition opportunities provided increased marketing avenues for hog breeders. Prices for show pigs increased and demand was spread throughout the year. Income for NSR increased in terms of sponsorships, registrations, advertising revenue and junior show entry fees.
In addition, the list of leaders Anderson has directly affected in animal agriculture is one of his greatest joys. Since starting his career with the AYC in 1987, Anderson supervised more than 100 employees and personally hired 55 staff members and 36 interns. Creating the internship program is one of the best decisions he says he made and has truly become one of his most enduring legacies.
“In spite of all of his vast accomplishments, one of Anderson’s most unique and endearing qualities is his humility,” Culp says. “He shuns the spotlight. He didn’t want to be at the front of every (or any) event, but rather, he encouraged those working for him to gain visibility which helped them grow professionally. This is really the mark of an exemplary leader and an individual who has made a lasting contribution and a significant impact upon the animal agricultural industry.”
When it’s all said and done, Anderson hopes he will be remembered as someone who treated people fairly, focused on relationships and always kept the good of the entire organization in mind.
“God and family are very important to me,” Anderson says. “You have to allow people not to get so wrapped up in the stuff of life that it drags them down. As you get older, the stuff of life fades a little quicker. You start to see what really matters.”
Darrell Anderson with his sons.
Anderson and his wife, Merlene, started a national llama show and sale in 2013 called the March Llama Madness.
Did You Know?
Anderson is the first llama breeder inducted into the Saddle & Sirloin Portrait Gallery.
In 2016, the National Pork Board honored Darrell Anderson as the recipient of its Distinguished Service Award.
While serving as the Extension director in Cottonwood County, Minnesota, Anderson took a 4-H group from having no judging program to winning the National 4-H Livestock Judging Championship in just three years.
“Darrell has provided extraordinary leadership to the pork industry,” said Everett Forkner, a pork producer from Richards, Missouri. “His skill in strategic planning and visionary ideas not only shaped the National Swine Registry, but also helped to develop current and future leaders of the U.S. pork industry.”
Courtesy of the Pork Checkoff Channel
Anderson bought his first ewe at age 8 and began raising purebred sheep. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from South Dakota State University in 1972