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. read more
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.
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.
We start with pork humanely and sustainably raised by small independent family farmers exclusively for us to our strict animal welfare protocols – the highest standards in the industry which eliminates the use of gestation crates or farrowing crates; never-ever allows for antibiotics or growth promotants, and uses only vegetarian feeds.
I kicked off the new year participating in a panel discussion for a recently released book, Women and the Land, written by Barbara Hall and featuring photographs by Kathryn Gamble. I like it because it challenges the visual stereotype that all farmers are men. This book showcases a variety of women here in Iowa working and tending to their land and animals.
This book includes photographs of my daughter and my father along with the many other women here in Iowa. Jan Libbey, another farmer, and local and sustainable food advocate working with Healthy Harvest of North Iowa & North Iowa Fresh, a local wholesale food hub, participated in the discussion last Saturday along with Charles City, IA farmer, Wendy Johnson, who is featured on the cover of the book.