As some farmers look ahead this year to successfully starting a new livestock farm or growing an existing facility, the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers, or CSIF, is encouraging them to begin the process with proper planning.
"A project of any size will take at least eight months to complete with larger barns and feedlots taking more than one year," says CSIF organization director Rex Hoppes. "A major consideration is how the livestock will be managed and marketed. Some people choose to do so independently while others prefer to partner with other farmers or companies. Depending on the farmer's preference, it takes some time to research the options to make sure you're going to work with people who are reputable and have a good track record of doing things right."
Finding right location is critical first step
Finding a good location for the new livestock farm is a critical first step in growing responsibly. Numerous rules and regulations guide many of the siting decisions, depending on species and number of animals raised. This includes separation distances from neighbors, lakes, rivers, streams and towns. In addition, farmers must be mindful of the proximity of land to be used for manure application.
Last year, the CSIF assisted 225 farm families in growing their livestock farms. The organization has provided a helping hand to more than 800 families who raise livestock since its launch in 2004. Along the way, CSIF has conducted more than 500 on-farm visits to help farmers evaluate their plans for growth and offer individualized recommendations.
"There are many things to consider including a site's proximity to neighbors and public-use areas as well as prevailing wind directions and the lay of the land," says Hoppes. "We're here to help in that process while providing the tools and resources farmers need to do things in a timely and responsible manner."
Be sure to allow for enough land nearby
In addition to proper siting, farmers should allow for sufficient land adjacent to the livestock barn for planting vegetative environmental buffers. Over time, trees, shrubs and lawn will help minimize odor movement while also enhancing the aesthetics of the farm.
"Raising livestock successfully begins with being a good neighbor," he notes. "This includes being considerate of others when hauling manure and taking time to visit with neighbors, updating them on changes to a farm ahead of construction and being accountable and responsible for everything that's done on the farm. At the end of the day, farmers who manage their livestock barns and feedlots the right way will have a farm they and their communities can be proud of."
Families wanting assistance in growing their livestock farms responsibly and successfully are encouraged to contact CSIF at 800-932-2436. There's no charge for service. The Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers is a non-partisan, not-for-profit initiative involving the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Poultry Association and Iowa Soybean Association. CSIF does not develop policy, lobby or maintain a membership base.