A crowd of more than 50 friends, neighbors, agricultural organizations and media gathered at a rural church near Ionia on Oct. 13 for the latest “Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award” presentation.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey presented the award to Leon and Barb Sheets, who operate a diversified fourth-generation farm and have raised hogs for nearly 40 years in Chickasaw County.
Leon Sheets humbly chose to credit the work of the farm families that make up the local Republic Community who do the right things with the animals, environment and the ground on a daily basis.
“I’m not doing anything differently,” Sheets said. “In this area, everyone is doing the very same thing. It’s an expectation and an obligation to be doing things right. They just chose me to be the one to accept and bring it home to the neighborhood.”
Neighbor JoAnn Tupper nominated the Sheets for the award.
“Leon represents some of the best in pig farming. He has taken the lead on animal welfare and implementing the newest technology to constantly improve his farming operation,” she said.
Tupper specifically highlighted Sheets’ animal husbandry, community involvement and environmental stewardship. To protect the environment, the Sheets use crop rotation, plant cover crops and have installed terraces, grassed waterways and buffer strips. The family received an Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award in 2017 in recognition of the steps it has taken on their farm to prevent erosion and protect water quality.
Sheets was named a Master Pork Producer by the Iowa Pork Producers Association in 1984 and he served as IPPA president in 2011.
The crowd enjoyed a grilled pork loin lunch provided by the Chickasaw County Pork producers and a local caterer.
The Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award, made possible through the financial support of the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers, recognizes Iowa livestock farmers who take pride in doing things right. This includes caring for the environment and their livestock and being good neighbors. It is named in memory of Gary Wergin, a long-time WHO Radio farm broadcaster who helped create the award.