October Pork Month is the time for recognizing the pork industry's commitment to producing safe, nutritious food and pork producers' commitment to animal well-being and their stewardship of natural resources. It's also a time for pork farmers to take a close look at their own operations and identify opportunities that will allow them to become both better farmers and better neighbors.
One of those opportunities, believes Kent Mowrer, field specialist with the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers, is the Green Farmstead Partner program. It's a collaborative effort of the Coalition, Trees Forever and the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association (INLA) that promotes the planting of vegetative environmental buffers (VEBs).
"The Green Farmstead Partner program offers timely and cost-effective assistance to farmers wanting to plant trees and shrubs around new and existing hog barns, cattle feedlots and poultry buildings," Mowrer says. "Planting VEBs provides numerous benefits for farmers and their neighbors and there's no better time for Iowa's pork farmers to begin planning for a VEB than now."
Vegetative buffers can reduce odor from livestock barns
Iowa State University research says VEBs, when properly planned and installed, can reduce odor from livestock barns by up to 15%. "The planting of trees and shrubs improves neighborhood aesthetics, enhances soil and water quality, helps conserve energy and creates a more pleasant working condition for farmers and their employees," says Keith Kratchmer, manager of Environmental Services Group, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Iowa Select Farms of Iowa Falls.
"Buffers and windbreaks also provide odor mitigation and add to the visual appeal of a livestock farm," says Kratchmer, also a VEB plan designer. "We support the Green Farmstead Partner program. It's a great neighbor-relations tool for livestock farmers and, as a site owner, Iowa Select is always looking for new ideas on how to make our farms more appealing and neighbor-friendly."
Kratchmer, and other VEB plan designers, work with individual farmers who request assistance in the planning of a VEB and then direct them to Green Farmstead Partner-participating nurseries for obtaining the recommended trees, shrubs and other needed plant materials. Farmers who successfully install VEBs and shelterbelts can apply to receive, at no cost, a personalized Green Farmstead Partner sign for display on their farm.
Farmers are very pleased with the planting of shelterbelts
Tama County pork producers Josh and Ali Volante, in conjunction with Iowa Pork Producers Association President John Weber, also from Tama County, planted a shelter belt around one of their finishing sites several years ago. Currently, the Volantes, who own and operate Pinnacle Pork, Inc., are establishing a Green Farmstead Partner plan at another site.
"We're very pleased with how our first shelterbelt has worked in terms of aesthetics, odor mitigation and neighbor relations," Josh says. "We're working with the Green Farmstead Partner program now because we want to make sure we continue to do things the right way and we can also take advantage of the VEB planning expertise available through the Coalition."
For more information about the Green Farmstead Partner program, or for a complete list of the 19 participating nurseries and VEB plan designers, call the Coalition at 800-932-2436 or log on to its website at supportfarmers.com.
The site also offers comprehensive information about the benefits of planting a vegetative buffer and considerations to keep in mind during the planning process.
Non-profit CSIF provides assistance to farmers at no cost
The Green Farmstead Partner program is supported by Alliant Energy, Farm Credit Services of America, Kent Feeds, Pioneer Hi-Bred and West Central Co-op. The Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers was created by farmers to help farmers raise livestock responsibly and successfully. It's a joint partnership involving the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, Iowa Corn Growers, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Poultry Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation and Midwest Dairy Association.
The nonprofit, nonpartisan CSIF organization provides assistance to farmers at no cost. CSIF does not lobby or develop policy. Farm families wanting a helping hand can contact the Coalition at 800-932-2436.