Through The Gate // July 2022

07-28-2022 in Through The Gate


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Doing Good in the Neighborhood

Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award Winners: Mike & Karen Bates



On Thursday, July 14th, the Bates family of Washington County became the 163rd recipients of the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award.

Bates Family Farms is based outside of Washington, Iowa and run by Mike and Karen Bates along with their daughter Courtney Bates and one employee. Mike established the operation after he graduated from high school in 1972 and has been farming ever since.

The farm includes corn, soybean and alfalfa production, a black angus herd and, for 33 years, a turkey operation. While the turkey operation recently transitioned to another young farmer in the area, it remains an important part of the farm’s leadership story.

Through their turkey operation, the family implemented many innovative animal husbandry practices. All their turkey barns were environmentally controlled and equipped with comprehensive biosecurity programs made possible by digital monitors and alarms. The Bates family kept detailed records of their antibiotic-free flock and were reviewed annually by West Liberty Foods. They are also Beef Quality Assurance certified, further ensuring their ability to provide top-notch animal care.

In addition to their dedication to high-quality animal husbandry, Mike has consistently emphasized the importance of conservation. As a result, the family has incorporated terraces, buffer strips and no-till practices on most of their row crop acres. They have also planted rye cover crops on potions of their land and use solar energy to power their house and turkey barns.

Outside of their work on the farm, the family is extensively involved in the Iowa agriculture community and other organizations. Mike has served on the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, the U.S. Meat Export Federation, the Farm Bureau Poultry Advisory Committee, the Agri-Way Partners board of directors and the West Liberty Foods board of directors. He is currently a member of the Iowa Turkey Federation, the Iowa Farm Bureau, the Iowa Soybean Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. They are active members of their church and are involved with Water for Life, an organization that helps ensure people in Haiti have access to clean drinking water.


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Why Should I Plant Trees?

There are many reasons to plant trees – from snow control to wind protection to improving relationships with neighbors. Although there will be an up-front cost, have you considered the ways a properly-designed tree planting could pay for itself? If you don’t have to scoop snow out of feed bunks, off pit fans or a roof, trees pay for themselves quickly!

Additionally, trees can provide visual screening, reduce odor and improve relationships with neighbors. The cost of establishing trees is much cheaper than defending yourself in a nuisance lawsuit.

You don’t just have to take our word for it – producers across the U.S. have found numerous benefits in incorporating windbreaks on their farms!



So how do I get started?

The best place to begin is to personally assess your farm site, determine your goals and develop a timeline for when you would want to start and complete your project.

However, we understand that it can be difficult to know how to start the process. That is why we are here! If you have questions, are unsure of what your best options are or would just like some ideas, call the Coalition at 800.932.2436.

The next step is to contact a nursery and landscape professional to discuss your needs, wants and options. The Green Farmstead Partner Program (GFP), in partnership with the Iowa Nursery & Landscape Association and Trees Forever, is training nursery professionals throughout the state who can be of assistance. They have the expertise and are available to design a cost-effective and time-efficient windbreak for your farm.

By using a GFP nursery, it will be easy for a farmer to qualify for the personalized GFP farm sign. However, if you have an established tree planting or have done the job yourself, you can still be a Green Farmstead Partner!


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