More Than Just Another Award

Inside Dakota Ag

Some people feared contract hog Some people feared contract hog finishing would pollute South Dakota’s water and air and reduce farmers who put up the

Published on: January 19, 2009

More Than Just Another Award


By Lon Tonneson


Congratulations to Fred Ligtenberg, Corsica, S.D.


He’s the winner of the South Dakota Pork Producer Council’s first Pork Environmental Stewardship Award.


But this isn’t just an award story. Lightenberg is a contract hog finisher for Murphy Brown.


Remember when some critics said Murphy’s plan to start contract finishing hogs in South Dakota would end up polluting the state and reducing farmers who put up barns to mere slaves to an agribusiness giant?


It apparently didn’t happen with Ligtenberg.


Here’s his story, as told by the SDPPC:


“In 1978, Ligtenberg and his wife Pat, purchased an acreage and began raising 100 head of hogs in modified open-front barns while continuing to work their full-time jobs in town.


“Unfortunately, the brutally cold, South Dakota winters challenged their building style, reduced profitability, and eventually led the Ligtenbergs out of hog feeding. However, because of his love for raising hogs, Ligtenberg and his wife began to contract finish hogs.


“In 1996 they built three 1,100 head finishers and recently placed their 33rd group of pigs with Murphy-Brown. Their pork is marketed through Farmland's Antibiotic Free and All Natural programs.


“Today, the Ligtenbergs own 150 acres and have planted over 20 acres of trees, with a 13-row shelterbelt to protect the farmstead. The wetland areas are seeded with reed canary grass and natural pond weeds. The tree-growth increases wildlife habitat and decreases wind flow as well as odor around the barns.


“Ligtenberg's soybean and corn crop rotation allows for minimal-tillage which decreases erosion. The organic nutrients applied to the soil each year are done in accordance with soil tests and manure analysis recommendations.


“Ligtenberg is PQA Plus certified. PQA Plus is a voluntary certification program that demonstrates to consumers a farmer's commitment to providing the best possible care for his animals. Consumers can also be assured that they are purchasing the highest quality, safest product possible from a farmer who cares about the well-being of animals.”


Ligtenberg received a cash prize and plaque from the SDPPC and will be nominated for the National Pork Environmental Steward Award given by the National Pork Board.


I hope he wins.

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