Producing Excellence shares compelling stories of American farmers and ranchers, both newcomers to agriculture and producers who span generations. Their stories are as diverse as agriculture itself, so we’ve created several ways for you to navigate:
John and Kati Hagenbuch
Products Raised or Grown: Hogs
Size of Operation: 9,600 hogs
Years in Business: 1
Farm Credit Partner: 1st Farm Credit Services
Years Working with Farm Credit: 11
As young farmers and parents of young children, John and Kati Hagenbuch were faced with a tough decision: either invest more time in off-farm jobs and away from their children, or jump fully into production agriculture and continue to build a legacy of farming for the next generation. Their decision was to open their own hog finishing facility in 2011.
“I’ve always liked working with animals,” John said. “We wanted to find something that fits us well. Hogs were something we knew, and knew well.” John, a fourth generation farmer, grew up around hogs and still works part time for his father and uncle on the family’s grain operation.
After more than a year to gain regulator approvals and complete their building, Hagenbuch Family Farms took in its first load of feeder pigs, which are between 10 and 60 pounds, in late 2011. The facility will eventually house 9,600 hogs being finished, or grown to their full 240-270 pounds. The facility employs state-of-the-art feeding and temperature controls. In case of an emergency at the facility, the system calls John’s cell phone and other important phone numbers. In addition, with his experience in crop production, John knew the manure from the facility would provide an added income stream and has plans to spread the manure on surrounding fields. “We looked at what we could get out of adding hogs, and we knew one of the big assets would be the manure,” he said.
Another important component to the Hagenbuch’s fledgling swine operation is reaching out to and educating the community. At an open house in 2011, the couple hosted more than 375 people, and believe that the interest in their venture from community members and non-farmers meant they had a message to share. To do so, Kati, who manages their communications efforts, has created both a website and Facebook page. “I deal with and care for pigs daily, so I can talk about what we're doing and how we’re doing it. I just want people to have the right information,” she says, adding that she empathizes with consumers’ desire to have a healthy and safe food supply. “I’m a mom, and I am concerned about what my kids eat,” she said. “I think about that, and we wouldn’t want to produce food that we couldn’t feed to our own children. I know that our pork is the safest and best we can get.”