Being a good neighbor is very important to pork producer Jason Russell of Monticello, Iowa.
One way to do that, Russell says, is to demonstrate a strong commitment to the environment.
“We just want to kind of shine a positive light on the pork industry,” Russell says. “There are so many things a person can do that are perceived as good for the environment—and neat—and we just wanted to do a few things to try and make ourselves less of a target for bad publicity, I guess, if that makes sense.
In recognition of their efforts, the Russells have been named a 2013 Pork Industry Environmental Steward by the Pork Checkoff. Russell Farms is one of four pork farms nationwide to receive that award.
Russell says the centerpiece of their efforts is a 50-kilowatt wind turbine that helps the farm conserve electric energy.
“We’ve probably been getting 60 to 80 percent of our actual power out of it, that we use in a given year,” he says. “And we’ve got a net metering agreement with the power company. We don’t actually sell power—we just get to store it on the grid until we need it again.
“That’s a real good deal for us because then you’re getting paid full price to generate electricity.”
Russell says the wind turbine has garnered a lot of positive publicity for the farm. Other practices include grass waterways, conservation tillage, precision farming and the planting of trees around confinement buildings.
“We want to be the good graces of the community and show that we’re trying,” Russell says.
Russell Farms is a wean-to-finish operation. They market more than 14-thousand hogs a year as part of The Maschhoff production network.
Other winners of the 2013 Pork Industry Environmental Stewards award are Bacon Hill Farm of Dodge, Nebraska; Krikke Pork, Greenwich, Ohio; and Blue Mountain Farm, Milford, Utah.