Schmidt family recognized with good neighbor award

Hancock County farmers honored for commitment to caring for the environment and livestock while also giving back to the community.

The Schmidt family of Hancock County was honored Jan. 24 at the Iowa Pork Congress with the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award for its efforts in caring for the environment, livestock and community.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig presented the award, noting the family’s long-time commitment to environmental stewardship and community involvement.

Brothers Jamie and Lonnie Schmidt said it is humbling to be recognized for the farm management practices they’ve implemented for years, as well as for their community involvement.

“We are very honored to be awarded for the contribution to agriculture we’ve tried to make,” said Lonnie.

Added Jamie, “It’s really an honor …, and we really appreciate that we were nominated and presented this award.”

Schmidt Family Farms, designated a Century Farm in 2011, is owned and operated by Jamie and his wife, Beth, and Lonnie and his wife, Christine, of rural Garner. 

The multigenerational family farm also consists of the Schmidt brothers’ parents, LuVerne and Mary Ann, as well as the next generation, including Lonnie and Christine’s children Adam and his wife, Victoria, and Leah and her husband, Mark Reinert, as well as Jamie and Beth’s daughter, Brianna.

Jamie and Beth also are the parents of two other daughters, Stephanie and her family from Houston, Texas, and Brittney and her husband from Moline, Illinois. The farm has three dedicated long-time employees.

Good stewards

The Schmidt family farms 3,800 acres of corn and soybeans with a farrow-to-finish swine operation consisting of 850 sows. They have raised hogs for more than four decades and market roughly 18,000 annually. They also feed approximately 600 cattle.

Being stewards of the land has been a priority throughout the years, Jamie and Lonnie said. In 2016, the farm received the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award for its work in conservation.

“In our cropping program, we try to use minimal till, leave residue on the surface (for soil health). We use filter strips along rivers and creeks, try to plant with variable rate seeding … and variable rate fertilizer,” Lonnie explained. 

“And we utilize the manure from our hog operation and incorporate that into our fertility recommendations.”

Jamie said everything they employ helps with their return on investment. “You try to maximize your inputs where it will be most used to do the least amount of harm to the environment,” he said. “When we do our manure plan, we don’t spread to the maximum rate. We spread further down and then supplement it with what we need so that we don’t overapply.”

Added Lonnie, “We just try to do the best management that we can and incorporate that into all areas of the operation.” 

The farm exercises practices and technology to mitigate odor from the barns. In order to maximize productivity, their fields are grid sampled using innovative technology to analyze the nutrient needs of each acre, which allows crop nutrient application and seeding to be completed according to prescription recommendations.