Brad Greenway is proud of what he does every day on his family farm and is not afraid to share his story. Over the next year, Greenway will get the chance to take that farm-to-fork story nationwide.
The National Pork Board recently announced that Greenway, a pig farmer from Mitchell, South Dakota, has been named the 2016 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year by achieving the highest score from a third-party judging panel and online voting. The award recognizes a pig farmer who excels at raising pigs using the We Care ethical principles and who connects with today’s consumers about how pork is produced.
Here’s five reasons why Greenway is the right farmer for the job:
1. Proud to farm and talk about it. Greenway doesn’t think anything sets him apart, as far as farming practices, but he’s not afraid to talk about his job. Since joining the National Pork Board program, Operation Main Street, in 2005, Greenway estimates he has given 120 presentations to various local civic organizations, dietetic groups, county commissioners, and schools. He said the interest in food right now is high and farmers need to take that opportunity to tell consumers what actually happens on the farm.
“Every one (presentation) I did, I just knew there was an interest in what happens on the farm and how we have changed,” Greenway said. “I am very passionate about what we do out here and I’m not afraid to talk to people about it.
2. Practices sustainability. Greenway and his wife, Peggy, own two wean-to-finish pig barns. They, along with a full-time employee, also raise beef cattle and grow corn, soybeans, wheat, and alfalfa. In addition to his children’s help on the farm, Greenway’s father is still active in the operation at 84. Greenway said he is not ready to retire yet, and will need to figure out how to transition the farm.
“Right now, we are a very nice size to what we can handle as a family and it is also nice I got enough pigs to divide the fertilizer so my crop ground grows enough corn to feed my pigs,” Greenway said. “So I feel we are very sustainable at the size we are and as far as expansion, I am very comfortable with where are now, and the next thing will be how to transition the farm to whoever that might be.
3. Represents farms of every size. Whatever venue Greenway attends, he makes an effort to answer the questions, talk about his own farm, and how it relates to what all pig farmers are doing around the United States.
“The goal is to represent all pig farmers and try to get the message out that everybody is committed to doing what’s right for their animals and providing pigs to the public,” Greenway said.
His advice for others in the industry is to not be afraid to share their story about what they do.
“We are many generations removed. There are only about 2 percent that still farm,” Greenway said. “My message is to people that are farming is talk about what you do every day whether it is livestock or crop farming. There’s just a misconception and misunderstanding and somehow we need to get the message out what happens on the farm.”
4. Optimistic for the future of farming. Greenway is extremely optimistic for the next generation of farmers. He believes a lot of the enthusiasm is centered around new technology in agriculture. He advises new farmers to find someone to mentor them.
“It’s expensive to get into farming. Nobody is going to deny, but there are still opportunities out there so visit with bankers, visit with farmers that are out there.” Greenway said. “I truly am optimistic because there is a lot of enthusiasm in the next generation of farmers coming in.”
5. Committed to consumers. Greenway has had the opportunity to travel to many urban places throughout his career and his core message to consumers is that America’s farmers truly are committed to doing the very best job on their farms so that consumers can be confident they are getting safe food. Just a few weeks ago, Greenway attended a Food for Tomorrow event in New York where he engaged with several people who are truly interested in how food is grown and raised, but have no understanding in agriculture.
“We truly have the safest, most abundant food supply in the world and they should feel very good about that,” Greenway said.
Greenway said it is the perfect opportunity for everybody to become involved and that’s what he looks forward to discussing over the next year.
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