Nestled on a small hill about 45 minutes north of Des Moines, surrounded by fields of corn and soybeans and a large network of hog and turkey barns, is a farm family devoted to transfarming their hog facility into an innovative specialty mushroom operation providing fresh produce and value-added products across the state.
How the Faaborg Family Is Changing the Future of Farming in Iowa
Tammy and Rand Faaborg began hog farming gradually as a side business after receiving a few pigs to raise from a family member. Over the years, their operation expanded until eventually they found themselves entering a contract with an integrator. It wasn’t long before the family began to see issues with the industry. After a year of working with Transfarmation, the family made the bold decision to end their 30-year tenure as pig farmers and pursue a full farm conversion.
Their son Tanner, who grew up on the farm with his four siblings, enjoyed many aspects of farm life but always dreaded chores in the hog barns. He left the farm to attend college and travel the world but has since returned to Iowa, determined to plant roots and work with his family to transition their farm.
Tammy and Rand are no strangers to Tanner’s ideas of modifying and improving their farm to make it more environmentally sustainable. From planting trees on the property to installing a solar array that powers the entire farm, Tanner has long been imagining ways to improve his family’s land. And he has big plans for how that change can happen.
“We aim to create low-carbon farming practices that make an immediate impact on mitigating climate change while also providing a model for other farmers to replicate.”
The Faaborgs dream of creating an operation that can be an example in their community, showing other farmers that transfarmation is possible. “We feel change is coming, and we’re excited to be a part of it,” Tanner said. Deeply involved in the Des Moines and Ames communities, the family is committed to making Iowa a better place. They are eager to supply these communities with fresh produce and, as their business grows, hope to provide stable, enriching jobs year-round.
From the ancestor who took on managing the farm at age 13 after a family tragedy to the restoration of a barn damaged by a tornado, the Faaborgs embody resilience in the face of challenges. They care deeply for their land and community, and they’re making the leap to change their farm and set an example for other hog farmers.
As Tanner explained, “It’s time to stop contributing to the problem and become part of the solution.”
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Forty-five percent of U.S. farmers have a negative net income. The median net poultry farm income was $13,140 in 2018, meaning half the poultry farmers in the country earned less than this amount.
Four percent of U.S. farms control 58% of farmland, while 13% of U.S. farms control 0.14% of farmland.
Fifty-five percent of poultry farms have debt, while 67.7% of dairy farms have debt.
Family farm Chapter 12 bankruptcies grew by almost 20% from 2018 to 2019. Ninety-five percent of dairy farms are family farms. There were 3,281 fewer dairy milk operations in 2019 than in 2018.