Swanson Family of Montgomery County Presented with Good Farm Neighbor Award
Haley Banwart | Assistant Field Specialist
For brothers Kirk, Kent and Kevin Swanson, building relationships with their neighbors is as important as the cropland they tend to and the livestock they
“We produce pigs, but I really think more than anything we’ve been a vehicle for relationships, and that’s the neatest thing about the experiment we call 4K Farms,” said Kirk Swanson, Montgomery County pork producer.
The Swanson brothers were awarded the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award on Thursday, January 26 in recognition of their outstanding efforts as environmental stewards, livestock caretakers and community leaders. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey, presented the award to the family commending them for the example they set for Iowa agriculture.
Community involvement is one way the Swanson brothers build relationships and model the characteristics of a good farm neighbor. In addition to serving leadership roles on the United Farmers Cooperative board and as Montgomery County Fair Swine Superintendent, the Swanson brothers open up their farm to their neighbors. Each year, the Swansons plant a half-acre of sweet corn and invite the neighborhood to participate in processing and packaging the crop before taking it home to enjoy.
Keeping Up with Conservation
For five decades, the Swanson brothers have relied on their collective strengths and areas of expertise to manage their farm successfully and responsibly. While Kent and Kevin focus their attention on maintaining a dynamic row crop system, Kirk spends his time managing a 200 sow farrow to finish operation and raising boar studs that support his swine breeding program.
“When it comes to crop farming, Kent and Kevin are very progressive in trying different things,” said Kirk. “They spend a lot of the summer cleaning the edges of the field and they take a lot of pride in that part of our operation.”
Along with maintaining the aesthetics of their acres, Kent and Kevin take additional measures to protect the environment by planting cover crops such as rye and radishes, establishing broad based terraces, and practicing no-till. According to the brothers, conservation was important to their grandparents and instilled in them as the third generation of their family farm. Many of the practices they use today are a continuation of their parents’ and grandparents’ earlier efforts.
Passing on a Passion
Just as technology has assisted the Swanson brothers in safeguarding the environment, it has also allowed Kirk to strike success with his swine breeding program. Advancements in genetics helped position 4K Farms as a home to superior boars that have consistently sired champion gilts and barrows.
The Swanson brothers didn’t grow up raising hogs, but Kirk says he developed a passion for swine genetics thanks to the relationships he fostered with his neighbors and experts in the livestock industry. Today Kirk shares that passion by helping young 4-H members get started with their first swine projects, hosting collegiate swine judging teams and giving tours of his swine operation.
“The most rewarding part of being a farmer and a pork producer is the influence I’ve had on young people,” said Kirk.
The Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award, presented by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa Ag Radio Network in partnership with CSIF, is presented six times annually to an Iowa farm family who raises livestock. It’s given in honor of distinguished WHO Radio farm broadcaster Gary Wergin and recognizes families who take pride in being good neighbors and stewards of the land.
To nominate a deserving livestock farmer or farm family, contact Brian Waddingham at email@example.com or (515) 225-5531.
The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers was created over 10 years ago by farmers to help farmers raise livestock responsibly and successfully. It’s a joint partnership involving the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Egg Council, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation and Midwest Dairy Association.