One of the best and quickest ways for young people to get a start in farming today is through livestock production and a southeast Iowa family has done just that to bring their children back to the farm.

Jim and Joan Sterling, their son, Josh, and their daughter and son-in-law, Jaime and Andrew Vandehaar, of Farson Livestock, LLC, have added two new hog buildings to their family farm near Hedrick to give the kids the start they need raising pigs on contract for JBS Live Pork, LLC.

The family opened the barns to friends, neighbors and community members for an open house on Nov. 23. A crowd of around 270 people turned out to tour and learn more about the 2,480-head computer and environmentally controlled wean-to-finish facilities and modern hog production and to enjoy a complimentary pork lunch.

The Sterling and Vandehaar families addressed the guests about how they raise livestock, use technology to care for them and safeguard the environment.

“This farm has been in our family since my grandparents purchased it inFarson_2 1946,” said Jim Sterling. “Our family’s farming history goes back to when my great-great grandfather purchased land in 1869 in Competine Township, Wapello County. Livestock has always been a big part of our family operation and we’re proud to keep the tradition going. Contributing to our community has always been important to us.”

Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers staff provided insight into interpreting rules and regulations impacting animal agriculture, enhancing relationships with neighbors and choosing good locations for new barns and feedlots. CSIF assistance is available to farm families at no charge.

“Iowa livestock farmers are community-minded and take great pride in their work and commitment to the well-being of their animals and the environment,” said Brian Waddingham, CSIF executive director. “It’s also no secret that livestock production has a positive impact on the local economy.”

Wapello County’s family farms and agriculture businesses employ 37 percent of the county’s workforce, contributing more than $360 million in wages to the county. These economic contributions enhance the local communities, schools and quality of life for all residents.

The open house was sponsored by CSIF; JBS Live Pork, LLC; Precision Structures, Inc.; Farm Credit Services of America; and the Iowa Pork Producers Association.