Cactus Family Farms committed to pork production
OSCEOLA — After many years of producing solely beef, Cactus Family Farms began pork production in Iowa back in 2015.
And four years later, a company executive said things are going well.
Rod Leman, vice president of business development for Cactus Family Farms, said they purchased an existing pork company in Iowa in 2015 after purchasing another existing hog production company in 2014 in South Carolina.
Cactus Family Farms is headquartered in Osceola. It has partners in Hamilton, Story, and Webster counties, among others.
“We still have a base of employees that support those partners in that area,” Leman said. “In those counties we probably have about 20 to 30 employees.”
The company still maintains its trucking division and truck wash in Webster City, according to Leman.
Prior to the development of Cactus Family Farms, the company, Cactus Feeders, was exclusive to beef production.
“It was a diversification strategy,” said Leman. “We’re a meat and protein company and we were looking at the growth opportunities and I think there is a big growth opportunity in pork. It is the No. 1 meat consumed in the world.”
The transition into the pork producing business from strictly beef has been a smooth one.
“It was a purchase of an existing hog company, so you had the challenges of blending two cooperate cultures, but I think it’s gone OK,” Leman said. “There are lots and lots of employees that are still with us. There’s been some changes, but I think that is natural.”
He added Cactus Family Farms is an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) company.
“It’s a little different kind of company. The people that are here in Iowa and in South Carolina and the southeast U.S.,” he said. “We have a lot of producer/partners. We have contractors where we place our hogs in their buildings and they own the buildings. They do the labor for us and take care of our pigs.”
The difference with the company being an ESOP, he said, “is that the people that go out and visit with our partners are owners of the company. It’s kind of neat. You don’t get that very often, where you are working every day one on one right beside one of the owners of the company.”
Along with the growth of Cactus Feeders, Leman believes Cactus Family Farms has also brought a new growth opportunity for people and farmers.
“Our model is, we own all of our own sow production,” he said. “We take those pigs out to the finishers. About three-quarters of that finishing is contracted; that is independent family farmers that build barns or have existing barns and we put our pigs in there and they care for them. We work with them on how to do that best.”
Currently, Leman said, there are seven sow farms in Iowa that produce about 650,000 pigs annually. In the southeastern part of the U.S., Cactus Family Farms produces about 250,000 pigs a year at those sow farms.
All of those pigs, approximately 800,000 to 900,000 are finished in Iowa.
Leman said Cactus Family Farms is looking to expand into Nebraska.
“Right now we are actively looking to grow next year by 5,000 sows,” he said. “We would like to add a new 5,000 sow farm, which for us is about 14 percent growth. That’s a big deal.”
That kind of growth, Leman added, is showing how Cactus Family Farms is committed to the hog business.
“We’re working in Nebraska right now and to try to find contract growers there,” he said.
There are new packing plants across the state in places such as Sioux City and Eagle Grove.
With that, Leman said Cactus Family Farms “is looking at the western Iowa area and eastern Nebraska area as a growth area for us. We’re excited to show our commitment to growth. We are also looking for partners on the contracting side.”
Leman said they are also committed to helping their growers to achieve a profitable bottom line by improving productivity.
“You can improve productivity, which in pig production is mostly about animal health,” he said. “So if you improve the health of your herd, generally the performance will be better and our biggest focus is on herd health. And we are out helping our producers do this every day.”