Steve & Lisa Thul

Steve Thul has been part of Smithfield Foods for nearly three decades. He started his career in 1996 as a territory assistant for Murphy Family Farms, now Smithfield. Then in 2013, he and his wife Lisa built a 4,400 wean-to-finish site and became contract growers for the company.

The Thuls market roughly 8,800 hogs annually. Initially, they hired employees to handle day-to-day pig care. But in 2020, Steve resigned from Smithfield to farm and manage his site full-time. While Steve is the main caretaker, Lisa helps place weaned pigs, as well as handles behind-the-scenes tasks like paying bills or replenishing inventory.

When Steve, 53, transitioned to a grower, he was able to offer another level of expertise and perspectives. Recently he was tapped for a position on Smithfield Midwest Region’s Regional Advisory Council, an avenue of communication between contract growers and Smithfield management. He is often prompted to share his experiences and thoughts and flow health, feed concerns, and medical protocols. To stay informed and involved, he routinely attends local grower meetings, banquets, and other outings.

Steve’s passion for caring for animals grew from watching his dad, who had about 150 sows. He also takes pride in his biosecurity practices and site aesthetics. Steve is always eager to educate others about modern pig production, and he stores farm photos and videos on his phone to share whenever he spots an opportunity. To further promote transparency, he has voluntarily participated in internal and third-party industry audits, passing with flying colors.

Along with pigs, Steve might be the “world’s smallest row-crop farmer” with 175 acres, on which he rotates corn and beans.

The Thuls are members of the Humboldt County Pork Producers and heavily participate in community activities. Lisa is involved with the finance committee and church choir at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Humboldt. Both volunteer at Humboldt sporting events and serve on a local group that determines financial assistance to citizens and groups in need. In addition, Steve is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and Lisa is part of the 100 Women Who Care, a group that aims to make a difference locally. They’re always willing to help a neighbor.

The Thuls have three sons, Nathan, 24, Bryce, 22, and Cody, 18.