May 2014 is a milestone for the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers, marking 10 years of helping more than 2,700 Iowa livestock farm families successfully and responsibly grow their farms and their communities.
CSIF was started by farmers for farmers to help them implement best management practices, properly site locations for barns, interpret an ever-changing landscape of rules and regulations and enhance their neighbor relations. Over the past decade, CSIF has assisted an array of livestock farmers ranging from cattle, dairy and hogs to turkey and even fish.
"What makes the coalition so unique is that we believe in sitting across from a farmer at their kitchen table to really get an understanding of each individual situation," says CSIF executive director Brian Waddingham. "Every farm is unique and every family has different goals. Some of the farmers we've worked with raise livestock independently while others partner with neighbors or companies. We want to help grow farms in a responsible and successful manner that will provide a significant boost not only to the farmer, but to their community and quality of life as well."
CSIF has worked with cattle, dairy, hogs, poultry and even fish
Over the past decade, the expansion of animal agriculture has led to an increase of $5.5 billion in economic output, $904 million in household wages, 22,000 jobs, and $265 million in additional tax revenue. "In order to continue this trend, livestock farmers need an opportunity to prosper. We believe our pre-emptive approach of helping farmers well in advance of breaking ground on a new livestock barn or feedlot is important to help Iowa's overall economy grow," says Waddingham.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, agrees, "CSIF has filled a critical need in working with livestock farmers in an unbiased and confidential manner and helping them work through all aspects of starting or growing a livestock operation. Understanding and complying with all the rules and regulations around livestock production is an absolute must and there is no better resource than the coalition. On top of that, all their efforts to help farmers better communicate with their neighbors and improve the understanding around modern livestock farming has been vitally important. Over the past 10 years, the coalition has had a significant positive impact on the attitude in the state toward livestock farming."
CSIF has adapted to meet the needs of livestock farmers
CSIF has adapted to the needs of livestock farmers, adding new services such as the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award, which recognizes livestock farmers who take pride in caring for the environment and being a good neighbor. The Green Farmstead Partner program was created in 2009 to help establish windbreaks on livestock farms and enhance neighbor relations. The service offers information on tree and shrub plantings along with the expertise of 21 nursery professionals. CSIF also presents educational conferences such as the annual Farming for the Future conference, and a variety of farm tours highlighting the latest best management practices for raising livestock responsibly in Iowa.
Travis Swartz is just one farmer CSIF has helped. "The coalition helped me find the best location for my new hog barn that not only exceeded the rules and regulations, but was also neighbor-friendly," says Swartz who raises hogs in Lucas County. "I strongly recommend using the coalition early on in the process to ensure things are done right."
Young people come back to farm, getting into livestock production
"We've seen a lot changes in the industry over the years including an increase in young people coming back to the farm and an interest in multi-species livestock farming. We even helped a farmer convert an old hog barn into a fish farm. There's no end to the opportunities in livestock if managed well," says Waddingham. "We look forward to continuing our original mission of helping Iowa farm families find ways to continue to grow their farms responsibly, both now and in the future."
CSIF's founding members include the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation and Midwest Dairy Association. The non-profit, non-partisan organization provides assistance to farmers at no cost. CSIF does not lobby or develop policy. For more information about CSIF or activities to celebrate its 10 year anniversary call 800-932-2436 or visit www.supportfarmers.com.