Ben Bader

Bader, 37, is a sixth-generation farmer who finishes about 12,000 hogs annually. Half come from his own buildings, and the rest are custom-fed. He markets pigs through Big Stone Marketing and owns shares in Wholestone Farms, a farmer owned, pork-processing facility in Fremont, Neb., where he sells most of his hogs.

Bader farms on the county line between Black Hawk and Buchanan counties. His ownership in two PIPESTONE-managed sow units—Skyline Pork in nearby Independence, and Dylbrook Farms in Canistota, S.D.—allows him to stay an independent producer.

Bader studied agricultural systems technology at Iowa State University in Ames, graduating in 2008. To make room for him full-time on the farm, he and his dad built a feed mill in 2009. Bader rented a hog building his first few years before putting up his own 1,000-head finisher. He has steadily grown from his early days of finishing just 2,100 pigs per year.

Bader considers the mill their best investment and part of their sustainable story. They raise about 2,000 acres of row crops, and have enough corn to service the mill. Over the years, they’ve grown specialty varieties like non-GMO waxy corn and non-GMO soybeans.

Bader and his wife Anna were 2016 winners of the Iowa Environmental Steward Award from the Iowa Pork Producers Association. Bader has invested in GreenStone Farms, a group of farmers led by PIPESTONE who work together with their row crop acres to create and capture value for farmers in the U.S. carbon market. In addition, he precisely places soil nutrients; solar panels power the entire farm; and he monitors his electricity, liquefied petroleum gas, and water usage.

When making future decisions, Bader relies heavily on data collection from his hog sites. He also tracks antibiotic use with PIPESTONE’s PART program.

Bader is active with the Buchanan County Pork Producers, St. Athanasius Catholic Church and School in Jesup, the Knights of Columbus, the Black Hawk County Farm Bureau, and the Mid-Iowa Cooperative board of directors. He enjoys talking about modern farming during farm tours, and during harvest takes equipment and pigs to the local school to educate youth. He has been the chairman of Skyline Pork’s PIPESTONE CARES initiative, which contributes to charitable projects.

The Baders have three daughters: Molly, 6, Leah, 5, and Maddie, 3.