Christensen Family Farm
When farming has been the roots of a family tree for nearly 100 years in Iowa, it’s probably safe to say that the career choice has been a sustainable one. That’s certainly the case for Delbert Christensen, a soy checkoff farmer-leader and soybean and hog farmer from the town of Audubon, in western Iowa.
“I’ve been farming since I was in high school,” explains Christensen. “My dad farmed as well, and I was able to purchase our family farm from him when he retired. I enjoyed working the land and raising livestock, so I knew it was a way of life I wanted to continue. I’ve always been a farm boy at heart.”
The apples have not fallen far from the tree, either, as Christensen’s children have continued the farming tradition that goes at least five generations deep now. One of his sons-in-law farms a portion of the land of Christensen Family Farm, where he grows soybeans and corn and raises wean-to-finish hogs. His son, Jason, has hogs in the family’s farm operation, which serves as a secondary job for him.
Many daily tasks are required in managing hog operations, including keeping the animals fed. Soybean meal is one of the feeds Christensen uses.
“Soybean meal has the balance we need for feeding hogs, while other feed ingredients do not,” Christensen says. “Soy offers the ration that many hog farmers prefer. Soybean meal is the protein of preference.”
While soybean meal is the preferred feed option for U.S. poultry and livestock farmers, there is a strong desire for it overseas as well. Global demand for soybeans reached 258 million metric tons in the 2012–13 marketing year and is estimated to grow to nearly 300 million metric tons by 2022–23.
“We are currently exporting every other row of soybeans to foreign markets, so international customers are essential to us,” Christensen adds. “As the world continues to grow, people will probably need a higher-quality protein, so soybean meal should fit into that equation.
“The amino acid balance of U.S. soybeans is stronger than most of the competition. We also offer a sustainable and competitively priced product that few can’t match. Plus, we have a very reliable transportation system.”
Not only are international customers important to Christensen and other soybean farmers, but they are also crucial to his hog operations.
“As more countries continue to develop and more people enter the middle class, they are looking for more protein, especially animal protein,” Christensen says. “The increased demand for meat leads to an increased demand for animal feeds, such as soybean meal.”
The Christensen family has been raising hogs for at least four generations and growing soybeans since the late 1960s. It is important for Christensen and his family to make sure their farming operations remain sustainable.
“We run a very sustainable operation on our farm,” adds Christensen. “We practice no-till and have really reduced the soil loss and the nutrient loss with our livestock. We put the nutrients from the livestock back into the farmland instead of using commercial fertilizers. These practices help keep our farm sustainable as well as profitable.”