Curt Winters, Sioux Center
Both personally and professionally, a lot has changed for Curt Winters since he was recognized as a 2009 Master Pork Producer alongside his parents, Lloyd and Norma.
First, their farm has grown to 11 different sites, and the wean-to-finish operation strives to finish about 55,000 hogs a year. Winters estimates that is double their numbers from 13 years ago. All of their pigs are sold to JBS in Worthington, Minn., though they do have ownership stake in Wholestone Farms, a farmer-owned, pork processing facility in Fremont, Neb.
Winters’ role on the farm also looks very different. He used to head up their farrowing unit, which no longer exists. Instead of day-to-day chores, he is shouldering a lot more of the bookkeeping, financials, and executive decision-making, as his parents transition toward retirement. However, he’s still a barn owner, and he checks in on the pigs as often as he can, to make sure facilities are in good working order and that general health is good.
Winters, 40, has experienced significant changes at home, too. He and his wife Samira announced their engagement during Iowa Pork Congress in 2010. She is originally from Brazil, and the two met when she was working on their farm as a foreign exchange student. They are now married and have three children: Sarah, 10, Elias, 3, and James, 1.
Raising good, healthy, quality protein for his young family and the world is something Winters is very proud of, and he is passionate about correcting misconceptions.
“Some people just don’t have the information of what actually goes into pork production and how much we love the animals and care for them,” Winters says. “They’re not just dollar bills.”
Despite Lloyd and Norma taking a step back, farming remains a family affair, as it has been for decades. Winters still leans on his mom and dad and seeks their advice.
“It’s been one of the great privileges of my life, to be able to go through the joys and challenges of hog farming together with them,” Winters says. “They get to see the growth and development of our farm and what they’ve labored for so hard, and I hope that, God willing, they’ll be around long enough to perhaps see the next generation come into it.”