Matt and Angie Schnepf both grew up on farms in northwest Iowa. They have used the lessons learned – hard work, a sixth sense for working with pigs, and continuous improvement of their production practices – for their achievement as Pork All-Americans.
The couple received the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) 2021 Pork All-American Award during the Master Pork Producers award program at the Iowa Pork Congress during the last week of January.
The IPPA Pork All-American award was established in 1970 to honor producers 40 years of age or younger who have established themselves as community leaders and successful and dedicated business people. Winners also have previously been named Master Pork Producers. The Schnepfs were part of the 2013 class of Master Pork Producers.
The couple is active with the Plymouth County Pork Producers. Matt has served as chairman of membership for several years, and assists with grilling events. In 2017, he helped launch the Adopt-A-Pig program to revive a “dying” hog show at the Plymouth County Fair.
FFA and 4-H youth – particularly those who do not have facilities to house a swine project – are paired with a mentor, attend barn visits and educational workshops, and have the opportunity to show a barrow and a gilt during the fair. The effort is a partnership between the county pork producers and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and annually reaches 30 youth.
Angie is also a 4-H club co-leader and Matt helps with his 11-year-old son’s basketball team. The couple also cheers on their two older sons, a 14-year-old and a 16-year-old, in their school activities, too.
Angie said the boys are very involved on the farm as well. “They help sort, load, vaccinate, and power wash. They do so much. They are huge to our operation!”
The Schnepfs built their first finishing barn in 2002 to contract feed pigs. Since then, they have added additional barns and have transitioned to feeding their own pigs. During that time period, they have increased their barn biosecurity. While that doesn’t guarantee healthy pigs “we’ve done really well at keeping pigs healthy on issues that we can control,” Matt said.
Biosecurity is emphasized even more because they also do some commercial trucking of hogs and cattle. Matt washes and sanitizes the trucks before he switches barns he’s loading out. “When you want to focus on pigs growing, you really don’t want them getting infected with a virus,” he said.
In addition to the wean-to-finish pig operation, the Schnepfs also have cattle and farm row-crops with Matt’s Dad.
IPPA and Iowa State University Extension co-sponsor the Master Pork program awards, including the All-American award. Nominations for the 2022 Master Pork Program awards will open in May.