In Neil Albertson’s mind, neighbors aren’t just those across the street.
"Neighbors aren’t just across the road. Your neighbors are everywhere. And being a good neighbor is probably just being more than being a good farm neighbor. It’s being a part of your church, community, your kids’ stuff. It’s beyond that," he said.
That attitude made Neil Albertson and his family the perfect recipient for the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award, which they received last week.
Neil and his wife, Lisa, farm with their sons, Travis and Casey, near Fremont and raise breeding stock for show pigs and commercial free-range production. Neil’s family began raising purebred Chester Whites in the 1930s, and they continue that tradition.
"In 1976, I bought my first set of purebred Chester Whites," Neil said. Today, they raise their pigs outdoors and sell breeding stock for niche marketers for outside, free-range operations like Niman Ranch and others. But it’s Neil’s involvement in helping young 4-H members select show pigs that got the attention of neighbor Charles Brown, who nominated him for the award.
"I had four daughters that went through 4-H and FFA. He supplied show pigs for those kids and a lot of kids in the area. He was willing to help out when they picked out the pigs, feed and helped teach them how to show the pigs," said Brown, a farmer and a farm management specialist for Iowa State University Extension in southeast Iowa. "I wanted to recognize him for what he did for them."
In his nomination, Brown also highlighted the family’s involvement in the community and the commitment of Neil and his brother to conservation on the crop ground they farm together.
"The family has been here for a long time, and they’re always willing to help out when needed," Brown said.
Albertson said conservation efforts are important to him and the future of the family’s farm. They’ve done a lot of terracing work on their fields and have worked to maintain waterways. Minimum tillage and some no-till farming are also a part of the family’s efforts.
"I want the dirt left there for my kids," he said. "Once you lose it, you can’t bring it back."
The Albertson family is exactly the kind of farmers that the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award, made possible through the financial support of the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF), was created to recognize, says Brian Waddingham, CSIF’S executive director.
"Neil does a great job with the livestock farm, raising his hogs, and goes above and beyond helping young people get a foot in agriculture with 4-H show pigs," Waddingham said.
Go to www.supportfarmers.com to nominate a deserving livestock farmer for the award.