Who ya gonna call?
09-24-2019 in Anniversary
WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – September 24, 2019 – “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to leave their farm in better shape than they found it,” says Scott Niess of Mitchell County. He and his wife, Julie, have a 1,500 head feedlot near Osage. It takes about 90% of the corn they raise to feed the cattle.
Niess feeds on three sites – an open lot, a deep bedded pack monoslope barn, and a converted dairy barn.
He hosts bus tours, serves on the Iowa Beef Industry Council, and both Scott and Julie are in the 4-H Hall of Fame.
They know farming. They know livestock. But when they wanted to erect the monoslope over an existing open lot, they called in the experts.
“We didn’t want any problems with potential run-off,” says Niess, “so we called the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) to come out and conduct an assessment.” They offered advice on design and best practices and referred them to an engineer.
“At that time, the DNR was doing assessments without penalty, and we wanted to come into compliance while we could,” says Niess. “If we needed improvements, we wanted to take timely action.”
Niess says the day the DNR showed up it was “raining and snowing and the place was as bad as it could be.” They pointed out needed upgrades.
Niess told them CSIF was already on board with a game plan. Action was already being taken. “They were satisfied that we were trying to do something and we were being guided correctly.”
“They approach each farm operation individually, using the rules and regulations as a standard and making the rules fit each case,” adds Niess.
A valuable industry resource
Niess has been familiar with CSIF since its earliest days when his brother, Tim Niess, served as the executive director. From his seat on the Iowa Beef Industry Council, he sees the benefit to the industry of the collective effort and the individual approach. “Whether it’s someone like me wanting to expand, or a young farmer getting started who may not be as familiar with his site location, CSIF is a great asset to help and advise as to the direction you may want to go. That helps create opportunity.”
“The Iowa Beef Industry Council helps support CSIF because access to experts on their programs and their knowledge of the industry and the rules is invaluable to our industry and our producers,” says Niess. “The Coalition is doing what was intended for beef, pork, poultry and other livestock farmers. And it’s right that farmers are driving it. They should have skin in the game and be taking advantage of the opportunity to take more ownership in our industry and in livestock production.”
Niess says he has a business to run and being a “one man band” can be a bit overwhelming, though he adds he is assured he will be “hired again tomorrow.” Running his farm doesn’t allow him the time to become an expert on things like siting or manure management plans.
He has not only tapped CSIF’s regulatory expertise, but its advice on neighbor relations as well.
“One of the things I learned from the Coalition is the value of communication,” says Niess. He needed to make adjustments to the catch basin at one of his feeding sites, a change that involved a larger area of land. “I had a neighbor who lived close to the waterway the basin drained into, and he came to me with concerns. I explained to him why the change was needed and how the grazing area works as a natural filter.” It made a difference.
Mitchell County near the Minnesota border is a livestock-oriented area, but Niess still sees a need to be proactive and to present farmers as doing the right thing. “Most of the expansion in this area is family-farm oriented, but you can’t overlook the importance of communicating with neighbors.”
Niess has hopes his son may return to join the farm, and wants to be able to expand to accommodate supporting a second family. He knows when that happens CSIF will have his back and be there to help him make the needed changes and improvements.
“They are proactive, and help us see problems we may not foresee,” says Niess. “They’re there to help us do things right.”
The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers was created by farmers to help farmers raise livestock successfully and responsibly. It’s a partnership involving the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Poultry Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation and Midwest Dairy Association. The non-profit, non-partisan organization aids farmers at no cost. CSIF does not lobby or develop policy. Farm families wanting a helping hand can contact the coalition at 1-800-932-2436.
(By Terri Queck-Matzie for CSIF. Queck-Matzie is a freelance writer from Greenfield).
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