Spring has finally sprung, which is great because this year we weren’t sure spring would ever arrive. What a crazy month April was – from thunderstorms to thundersnow to blizzards. Our children are always happy to have a few days off from school due to snow, but farmers never get a day off.
Earth Day, like every day, is a great opportunity to take time to appreciate the earth. Living on a farm, favorable weather and healthy soil are never taken for granted. As Niman Ranch farmers, we are closely connected to the land, caring for the earth as the earth provides for us. We aspire to preserve the land and fresh water for future generations. In order to do this, we practice a variety of conservation and sustainable farming techniques to improve water and soil quality. We truly live every day like it’s earth day with our top 10 sustainable best practices.
My father, Paul Willis, was invited by Iowa State Representative Todd Prichard to talk to the Agricultural Committee in Des Moines at the state capitol on February 15th. Dad discussed sustainable, humane and traditional farming opportunities created by Niman Ranch for farmers in the state of Iowa, along with the rural economic development created through this niche market.
Family farmer John Gilbert started selling pigs to Niman Ranch 20 years ago when he and his wife were young parents to three small children. Their oldest son John joined the family farm and today the father-son duo are still raising hogs for Niman Ranch.
Chef Todd Fisher has been making waves in the seaside city of Carmel, California, with his refreshing modern interpretations of culinary classics. At Folktale Winery & Vineyards and the newly established Seventh and Dolores Steakhouse (7D), Fisher has been making food for foodies and sourcing the best quality ingredients along the way, including Niman Ranch meats. This caught the attention of the prestigious James Beard Foundation, which has invited Chef Todd and his team of culinary all-stars Chefs Jeremiah Tydeman, Danny Leach, and Adam Wulf to cook Niman Ranch meats at the James Beard House in March 2018.
Last year we gathered some information on the scope and sentiment of our hog farmer network. Our non-scientific Farmer Survey consisted of three open-ended questions; more than 97 farmers responded and the survey results were inspiring.
As seen on The Dr. Oz Show, 5th generation cattle rancher and cattle handling expert, Mel Coleman, highlights the importance of all-natural beef and following your beef from farm to table.
Our own Niman Ranch Founding Hog Farmer, Paul Willis, recently discussed his appearance on The Dr. Oz Show, and the importance of antibiotic-free pork and animal husbandry in the pork industry.
In January, we joined PFI at the Scheman Building in Ames, Iowa for their annual conference.
Practical Farmers of Iowa’s mission is to strengthen farms and communities, which is right up our alley at Niman Ranch. This nonprofit group was founded in 1985 as an organization for farmers. They use farmer-led investigation and information sharing to help farmers practice an agriculture that benefits both the land and people. As a matter of fact, many Niman Ranch farmers are members and even deeply involved hosting on-farm educational tours for the new and seasoned farmer interested in learning more.
The Sibbel farm has been in the family since 1919 so it was no surprise that Niman Ranch farmer, Scott Sibbel, inspired by his dad and two grandfathers, was eager to start farming at a young age. Today, Scott raises hogs and cattle for Niman Ranch on the family farm in Iowa in the traditional and sustainable way his grandfathers did. Scott says they taught him to farm so that “hogs are able to act like hogs” and the “cattle able to act like cattle”. That sounds like good advice!
Scott and his wife Martha have two children, Anthony and Ellie.
Scott took some time to come in from the field and answer a few questions in today’s Q&A with a Niman Ranch Farmer.