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Wesslings are top environmental stewards

From news reports

Date Modified: 02/24/2014 11:28 PM

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GRAND JUNCTION, Iowa — The Iowa Pork Producers Association presented its 2013 Iowa Environmental Steward Award to a Grand Junction farm family.

Bruce and Jenny Wessling received the award, a trophy and $1,000 during the Iowa Pork Congress in Des Moines.

The diversified Wessling Ag family farm includes their daughters, Jolee and Taylor, and Bruce's parents, Roger and Judy.

The Wesslings finish nearly 19,000 hogs at two sites each year under contact with Cargill Pork. Bruce is the day-to-day operator of the feeder-to-finish business and the farm while Jenny is the business manager for Wessling Ag. The family also farms 4,600 acres of corn and soybeans.

The Wesslings place emphasis on relations with the neighbors and the surrounding community. They worked with the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers to ensure compliance with rules and regulations.

Using the CSIF guided Community Assessment Model, the Wesslings determined the impact prevailing winds have on siting and what hog barn locations would have the least amount of impact on neighbors.

The family also participated in the CSIF Green Farmstead Partner program to develop a Vegetative Environmental Buffer around their farm. The system adds to the aesthetics of the barn site and reduces particulate matter and odor effects on area residents by up to 90 percent.

Maintaining soil and water quality is a high priority. They use terraces and grass waterways and have established buffer strips along creeks to reduce soil erosion and runoff from their crop acres. These practices, along with the tree buffer, also provide wildlife habitat.

The Wesslings use wet-dry feeders to aid in water conservation and increase manure value on a per-gallon basis. They take necessary steps to ensure proper nutrient placement, which is achieved through sampling and manure incorporation in accordance with their DNR manure management plan.

From their time spent helping 4-H youth with their livestock projects, to raising money for improvements to the swimming pool in Grand Junction, Bruce and Jenny are active residents of Grand Junction and Greene County.

Bruce is the vice president of the Greene County Pork Producers Association and plans producer grilling events, overseeing a scholarship funding program and assisting in fundraising for improvements on the 4-H hog barn at the Greene County Fair. Bruce also has served on the Greene County Farm Bureau Board and held an advisory position with the Iowa Soybean Association's "On Farm Network."

The Environmental Steward Award was established in 2007 by the IPPA Environmental Committee to recognize pork producers who go above and beyond in environmental stewardship. The selection committee judges nominees on the producer's manure management, soil and water conservation practices, air quality strategies, wildlife habitat management and environmental management innovations.

The selection committee consists of the IPPA Board of Directors, the IPPA Environmental Committee and Iowa State University Extension and Pheasants Forever officials.