Nate & Melissa Moretz

Both Nate and Melissa Moretz grew up raising pigs. So when looking to diversify their cattle and row crop operation, stepping back into the hog industry seemed like a natural choice.

In 2017, they built a 2,400-head, wean-to-finish barn behind their home. As contract growers for Sleepy Eye, Minn.-based Christensen Farms, they finish 4,800 pigs per year, selling primarily to Seaboard Triumph Foods in Sioux City.

However, putting up the barn proved to be a greater challenge than the Moretzes anticipated, as a few neighbors were against the facility being built at all. To educate the public and earn back their community’s perception, they partnered with several ag organizations, including Iowa Pork.

They even hosted an open house before filling the space with pigs. More than 200 attendees were invited to take a tour and learn about modern pig farming from their contractors, manure management partner, and representatives from Christensen Farms. As a former high school agriculture instructor and FFA adviser, Melissa also encouraged FFA and 4-H groups to come.

“That was really a fun thing,” Melissa said. “We got to share our story and why we did this, and the public got a lot of questions answered. A lot of minds were put at ease that night.”

They continue to welcome classrooms of students and anyone else to their farm, to bring awareness to where their food comes from and hear about opportunities in agriculture.

The Moretzes farm with Nate’s parents. Besides the pigs, they also have beef cattle. In addition, they grow corn and soybeans, along with alfalfa hay, pumpkins, and sunflowers. Nate manages the farm operation full-time, while Melissa splits her time between the farm and working as a commercial lender at First Citizens Bank in Mason City.

In their spare time, Nate is involved with the Worth County Cattlemen, while Melissa handles a lot of public relations for the farm and for agriculture. She is vice president of her county Farm Bureau board and a 2022 recipient of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmer Leadership Award. She also is vice president of the North Central Iowa Ag in the Classroom board, on the Mason City Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Committee, and a Sunday school teacher. In the past, she was involved with Common Ground Iowa.

The Moretzes have two kids, Kole, 7, and Bria, 4.