Leadership Washington group become farmers for a day

Members of this year?s Leadership Washington class boarded a school bus Wednesday, March 14, and traveled the roads of Washington County to learn about agriculture.

The day began at the Washington County Extension office where the group did a feed mixing exercise. They learned about different ways feed can be mixed, different equipment, and why it is important for feed to be formulated and mixed correctly.

The first presentation was by Tye Rinner of Bates Family Farm who spoke about turkey production. Due to bio-security measures being taken, due to the threat of Avian Influenza, the group was unable to visit the farm. However, Tye brought the farm to the Extension office via a slide show. The group learned about the labor involved in keeping the birds healthy, productions costs, utilities, technology, and bio-security issues. Rinner told the group about West Liberty Foods and the processing of the meat and that their product is marketed to Subway and Costco.

At the next stop Matt Wulf told the group about his cattle operation. They had an opportunity to see new baby calves, learn what calving season is like, view feedstuffs, and learn of costs associated with beef production. The group moved up the road to the Brayton Turner farm where they learned about the lambing process, what is needed to raise sheep, and production in general. Turner also shared the challenges beginning young farmers face.

Over lunch, a presentation was given by Lindsey Foss and Kelly Visser from the Iowa Food and Family Project. 4-H Youth Coordinator Amy Green led the group in a bio-security activity demonstrating how disease can easily spread and why it is necessary for producers to have bio-security measures in place.

The class traveled to JWV Pork where the group learned about the pork industry and operation of JWV Pork. Amanda Adam presented a Powerpoint about their 75-employee hog business, talking about bio-security, the growth from a small family business, and human resources.

The final stop was with Tom, Jonathan, Josh and Joel Vittetoe. Here the class learned about a grain operation. Various pieces of equipment were viewed and the costs associated with purchasing equipment was discussed. Joel Vittetoe discussed the use of GPS and technology in ag production.

Leadership Washington is a program offered through the Washington Chamber of Commerce. Ag Day is sponsored by Washington County Farm Bureau. Leaders for the day were Amanda Russell, Nancy Adrian and Rachel Fishback. Contact the Washington Chamber at 319-653-3272 for more information on the program.