The first Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award of 2023 was given last week to Dennis and Diane Liljedahl, who raise hogs near Essex in Page County.

The award recognizes Iowa livestock farmers who take pride in caring for the environment, their livestock and being good neighbors. It is named in memory of Gary Wergin, a long-time WHO Radio farm broadcaster who helped create the award.

Liljedahl Farms is a third-generation family farm. Dennis and Diane work alongside their son, Drew, and daughter-in-law, Candice, to raise corn, soybeans, seed soybeans and about 3,000 wean-to-finish hogs annually.

“We were fortunate enough to be recognized with this award, which I guess means we have good neighbors,” Dennis joked, after receiving the award at the 2023 Iowa Pork Congress, in Des Moines last week. “You can’t be a good neighbor without good neighbors around you.”

The farm was established by Dennis’ parents, Charles and Eileen Liljedahl, in 1958. Dennis returned to the farm in 1975, and Drew joined the operation in 2006. Dennis and Diane also have a daughter, Abbey, and four grandchildren.

The Liljedahls are passionate about providing top quality care for their livestock and are advocates for community involvement.

“We’ve tried to be good community members and, you know, to be there however the community needs support,” Dennis said. “You need to be involved to get things done in the local community and the state organizations, and we’re always looking for people to help out.”

Dennis is past president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association and has served on the organization’s board since 2016. He is a delegate to the National Pork Forum, a member of the Page County Pork Producers Association, a Master Pork Producer and a former assistant swine superintendent for the Page County Fair.

Diane serves as chair for the St. John’s Lutheran Church Council and chair of the committee to restore the Essex Opera House, and is active with the Page County Endowment.

“Multigenerational farm families like the Liljedahls are at the heart of so many of our communities across Iowa. They have a family tradition of being good stewards of their land and excellent caretakers of their livestock,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, who presented the award to Dennis and Diane. “The Liljedahls are also leaders in their community and within Iowa agriculture, and I am pleased to present them with the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award.”

The family has implemented numerous conservation practices, including no-till planting and seeding 1,000 acres of cereal rye as a cover crop for the past four years.

They installed terraces, grass­ed waterways, buffer strips and pollinator habitat on their land, and they participate in the Conservation Stewardship Program.