For their dedication to a strong environmental conservation ethic, a review committee representing the National Pork Checkoff Board and National Hog Farmer magazine, co-sponsors of the program, have selected four pork production operations as Environmental Stewards for the year 2003. They are:

  • Alliance Farms, Cisne, Ill.
  • Nicolai Pork Producers Inc., Hector, Minn.
  • Bundy Lane, Sarem Farms Inc., Gates, N.C.
  • Vic Little, Quail Run Farms, Rosston, Okla.

"This year's winners represent some of the finest individuals and operations in our industry," said Craig Christensen, a producer from Ogden, Iowa and president of the National Pork Board. "The Pork Checkoff's Environmental Stewards are representative of pork producers across the country who are committed to maintaining and improving the environment."

A national selection committee evaluated each operation on its manure management, conservation practices, odor-control strategies, farm aesthetics and neighbor relations, wildlife habitat and innovative ideas. Each finalist also provided general production information and wrote an essay on the meaning of environmental stewardship. The annual awards program is co-sponsored by Pork Checkoff and National Hog Farmer magazine, who will feature the winners in their September issue.

The 2003 Environmental Stewards also will be recognized among their peers for their commitment to environmental conservation among their peers in March at the 2004 National Pork Industry Forum in Atlanta, Ga.

America's pork producers are stewards of the land, said Christensen. They invest, through the Pork Checkoff, in environmental research and programs that address odor, manure management and regulation compliance, to name a few. This is the ninth year for the Checkoff-funded Environmental Stewards program. To meet the winners and tour their farms, visit the Checkoff Web site at www.porkboard.org.

National Pork Board has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health and pork safety. For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at 800-456-PORK or check the Internet at www.porkboard.org.

Note to media: Pork producers are available to interview about this story. To arrange for an interview, please contact Cindy Cunningham, assistant vice president of communications at the National Pork Board, at 515-223-2600.

Alliance Farms, Sow Farm 202 Paul Burriss, an employee of Hostetter Management Company, is the area production manager for Alliance Farms, including Sow Farm 202. This farm is a farrow-to-wean site near Cisne, Ill. that houses 2,500 sows. This cooperative, which originated in Colorado, provides a continuous flow of nursery pigs for its shareholders. Alliance Farms has established a strong, beneficial partnership with local farmers to use the effluent from the anaerobic/facultative lagoon treatment system. A complete set of records are collected and maintained for the production site and each application site. Alliance Farms works closely with the Illinois EPA in development of regulations and reporting. This site overlooks a 45-acre lake that serves as a home for various wildlife. Burriss and Alliance Farms see themselves, and other pork producers, as greenskeepers of the environment: striving to make their environment one that others can appreciate and admire.

Nicolai Pork Producers, Inc.

Dick Nicolai, owner, and Sam Watkins, owner-manager, operate a 1,500-sow site near Hector, Minn. The partnership, which also includes Donn Cunningham and Gary Lamka, has taken a concentrated approach to manure management and odor abatement. The farm implemented a biofilter to treat odor from the barn and deep pits. The exhaust air from the barn passes through a biofilter which consists of a mixture of compost and woodchips. Microorganisms in the mixture oxidizes the exhaust air and minimizes odor. The site has been host to many visitors interested in biofilter and odor-reduction technologies. NPPI believes in complying with environmental regulations, using natural resources responsibly, minimizing waste generation and educating the community on change and practices.

Sarem Farms, Inc., Bundy Lane

Bundy Lane is an eighth-generation farmer from Gates, N.C., who manages the 4,800-sow farrow-to-wean site as part of his family's operation that includes crops such as corn, peanuts, cotton, soybeans, wheat, fescue and bermuda pasture, as well as Angus cattle and a farm supply business. The sows are housed in tunnel ventilated, pit-recharge buildings with a two-stage lagoon system. Special attention is given to odor abatement to ensure proper biological activity in the lagoons as well as to evergreen biofilters near exhaust fans. The lagoon effluent is applied to cropland to yield economic and production benefits to the operation. The Lane family has had a long history of wildlife management. Bundy Lane also maintains a strong and open relationship with his neighbors. He understands that the better he can manage his operation, the better he can leave it for future generations.

Quail Run Farms, Vic Little and Family

Vic Little, the fifth-generation to raise hogs in the Ditch Valley area, took advantage of an opportunity to return to his family's operation. Together with his wife, Melva, and son, Kirby, he operates a 3,400-head nursery outside of Rosston, Okla. Vic has given special attention with his nursery and the shallow-pit/evaporative lagoon. Some of his practices include lagoon surface wave-breakers, using biocatalysts and microbial additives in pits and establishment of a shelterbelt. The Little family also takes special care when they empties so not to affect the neighbors. Vic has conducted field trials to minimize ammonia levels on the farm and also discovered water conservation practices that can be used. Vic has a special interest in wildlife management, working with the Oklahoma Wildlife Department for conservation. Vic and his family see environmental stewardship as not merely an option, but as an essential part of life and business.

For more information contact: Cindy Cunningham at the National Pork Board, (515) 223-2600.