This third-generation Iowa Farm Family’s hog operation exemplifies sustainable agriculture

We meet this week’s American Farm Family, Matt and Melissa Ditch, who are helping decrease the environmental impact of their Iowa hog operation and passing on that sense of responsibility on to the next generation.

Iowa pig farmer Matt Ditch exemplifies what it means to run a sustainable livestock operation, striving to decrease the environmental impact of his pig farm and make a positive impact on both the land and within his local agricultural community.

Ditch has not always been a farmer. He approached his wife, Melissa, with the idea of changing his career and returning to his family farm in Iowa to raise their family. She agreed it was a great decision — not only to be closer to family, but also for their children to learn important values about agriculture.

The Ditch Family hopes to instill an understanding of animal husbandry in their children as well as the importance of environmental stewardship, and taking part in their local agricultural community.

“As they get older, we do start to have those conversations.” Matt said, his children will ask: “‘Hey, dad, why do we do this? Or why do we do that?’ And so, they kind of get a firsthand lesson of why we do those things and why they’re good for the environment and the pigs and us.”

Environmental Regulatory Consultant Samantha Dewitt says the Ditch Family goes above and beyond to ensure they follow regulations.

“Technology is advancing very quickly each year, and there’s new practices that come out — new technologies every year — and it’s been neat to see how Matt and his family have been open and accepting of those and implementing some of those things,” Dewitt said. “It’s the way of the future for the industry.”

Melissa says there is nothing quite like having a farming legacy,

“It’s fun to be the third generation in this spot,” she said. “It makes us proud we are grounded here in family and tradition.”

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