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DAA: James Rieth

James Rieth

Spicer, MN | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 1997

Dr. Rieth is president and chief executive officer of Jennie-O Foods, a subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corp., and the second largest turkey processing company in the United States. With Hormel since 1963, Dr. Rieth has climbed the ranks from industrial engineer to vice president of engineering. He has held a variety of management positions during his tenure, and was once president and CEO of another Hormel subsidiary, Farm Fresh Catfish. Along the way, he has been involved with many facets of Hormel’s products, including the beef, pork, aquaculture, and poultry industries. Dr. Rieth strives for continuous quality improvement and inspires success by effectively communicating with producers and motivating employees. Jennie-O’s methods of contracting with turkey producers allow much more flexibility than is typical of other processors in the industry. Dr. Rieth’s interest in the food processing industry began with a summer job at a meat packing plant in his hometown in Muncie, IN. Desiring to combine technical knowledge with management skills, he embarked on his extensive education at Purdue, in a variety of disciplines. At a completion of his studies, he received an Honorable Mention at the National Agriculture Economics Dissertation Competition in 1972. Since graduating from Purdue, Dr. Rieth has returned to participate in the Krannert Executives in the Classroom program, and was honored as an Old Master in 1996. Dr. Rieth is a member of the National Turkey Federation Executive Committee; a member of the Wilmar Area Quality Control Council and the Wilmar Rotary Club; and is on the Regional Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America. Dr. Rieth also has been involved with the YMCA, United Way, and the Salvation Army.