Folsom Family receives Good Farm Neighbor Award
ROCKWELL CITY — First a blizzard in early April thwarted the presentation of the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award to Jason Folsom and his family in Rockwell City. By the time the presentation was rescheduled to June 19, heavy rains and flooding were creating havoc in parts of northern Iowa, but the ceremony proceeded without a glitch.
The Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award, which is presented by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers, recognizes Iowa livestock farmers like Folsom who take pride in doing things right. This includes caring for the environment, ensuring the well-being of their livestock and being good neighbors.
“Raising livestock was the only way I was going to get started in farming,” said Folsom, who has five 2,400-head finishing barns on three sites and farms roughly 2,000 acres with his father, Mike, who also has a 3,000-head finishing barn. “I like working with livestock. If you grew up on a livestock farm, it sticks with you.”
The value of livestock agriculture to rural areas like Calhoun County was a big topic of discussion during Folsom’s Good Farm Neighbor award celebration, which included live interviews with broadcaster Bob Quinn on WHO Radio.
“Animal agriculture is so important to our state and adds so much to rural communities,” said Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. “It’s an honor to help recognize our farm families like the Folsom’s who do such a great job caring for their animals and protecting the environment while also being active leaders in the community and helping feed the world.”
For Folsom, producing high-quality pork starts with a focus on animal well-being. That includes proper nutrition, following tight biosecurity standards and maintaining a good working relationship with his veterinarian.
Folsom also takes great care to protect the environment. He injects swine nutrients into his fields to feed his crops.
“Those nutrients are too valuable to waste,” said Folsom, who has a manure management plan on file with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and is subject to random DNR inspections. In addition, Folsom has his swine manure tested regularly to measure the nutrient content. He also invests in soil tests to measure the nutrients in his fields where he raises corn and soybeans.
This data guides Folsom’s decisions so he doesn’t over-apply or under-apply nutrients when he fertilizes his crop. Variable-rate fertilizer applications also help him fine-tune his fertilizer program. Along with all that, Folsom invests in nitrogen inhibitors to protect the nitrogen he applies to his fields and keep it in place in the soil where it can nourish his crops. Some of the land he farms also includes conservation practices like terraces and a buffer strip to protect the soil.
In addition to protecting natural resources, pork producers help drive the local economy.
When new barns or packing plants are built, this creates jobs for construction workers, plumbers, electricians and others,
“Swine farms create work for custom power washers, employees you hire, lawn mowing services, propane and electricity providers and the local hardware store, since you’re always needing supplies,” said Folsom, who noted that he and his father raise about 30,000 hogs per year. “Pork producers also pay property tax dollars to the county.”
Leading the way in ag
While farming keeps Folsom fully employed, he’s also an active volunteer in his community and is well versed in many current local, state and national issues facing agriculture and the economy.
He has been involved with the Calhoun County Farm Bureau for more than 14 years, where he’s a past president of the board and current voting delegate. He’s also a graduate of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) Ag Leaders Institute, has served on the IFBF Resolutions Committee and serves on the IFBF’s Swine Advisory Committee. In addition, Folsom is a board member with the Calhoun County Corn Growers Association and serves as a District 4 representative for the Iowa Corn Growers Association.
“Agriculture and the pork industry are only going to succeed if people are willing to step up and tell agriculture’s story,” Folsom said. “Getting involved in these organizations also gives you good opportunities to learn from some of the best producers and leaders around the state and nation.”
The in-depth knowledge and hard work that’s required to support the ag industry and produce food is just part of the job for a pork producer like Folsom. There’s little down time in a business like this, either. If an ice storm or blizzard hits, Folsom heads to his hog barns to check on the livestock, often before he takes care of things at home.
“Sometimes I don’t think people realize how much the land and livestock mean to farmers,” Folsom said. “Even though modern agriculture may look a little different than it has in the past, it’s still family farming.”