ALVORD—Chet Mogler has accomplished quite a bit in the time since he began managing his family’s pig farm in 2011.
The 30-year-old oversees operations at the new Pig Hill West sow farm, a 54,000-square-foot facility that houses 4,400 sows north of Alvord.
The facility was completed in December 2016, having expanded from the 900-head sow operation it was when he took over management.
In early 2018, Mogler learned he and his wife, Cassie, had been nominated for the Master Pork Producer award for Lyon County.
“It’s kind of a family award so to speak,” Mogler said, adding that Cassie is a stay-at-home mom for their five children.
The Moglers went on to be chosen as one of nine pig farmers across the state for the 2018 class of Master Pork Producers, which the Iowa Pork Producers Association inducted at the Iowa Pork Congress in January.
“It’s kind of a nice evening away to get recognized for your attempt at being a successful pork producer,” Mogler said.
Part of the criteria he had to meet to be chosen for the honor is abiding by the We Care principles set forth by the Iowa Pork Producers Association. Those involve maintaining clean facilities to produce safe food, ensuring the pigs are well cared for, using resources responsibly and contributing positively to the community.
Pig Hill uses biosecurity measures such as air filtration system to prevent outside diseases from being introduced to the pigs or the feed they eat. Mogler also said his facility uses a GPS tracking system to efficiently apply pig manure as a fertilizer to the farm’s crop fields that grow produce used as feed for the pigs.
Despite the reliance on advanced technology, human workers remain essential to the operation. Since finishing the expansion, he hired 15 full-time employees at Pig Hill.
“High-skilled animal husbandry is still always something that will need to be done by people,” Mogler said.
Being recognized with the award was an opportunity for him to show that young people continue to play an active role in the agriculture industry.
“There are a lot of people who don’t have direct connection to the farm, so to speak,” he said, “so it is a good opportunity to share about what we do and to tell people where their food comes from and the importance we have as being, you know, a family ourselves, that we’re producing food for not only our family but our neighbors and people around the world.”
Mogler said he has had the chance to talk about the importance of farming with people he works with on the Lester Volunteer Fire Department and has spoken to students in the West Lyon School District.
In January, he visited two family consumer science classes to talk to the students about pork production and showed them how to prepare pork in the kitchen.
He recalls asking each class of about 25 students, “How many of you are connected to the farm on a regular basis?” and being surprised by the response.
“There were only six kids out of 50 that were connected to farming,” Mogler said. “So that just blew my mind of the importance of, even in our local area, sharing the story of where their food comes from.”
He also has advocated for the pork industry outside of Iowa.
While taking part in the Iowa Pork Leadership Academy in 2018, Mogler traveled to Washington, D.C., to promote the pork industry to state representatives. The group also went to California last year to visit the Port of Oakland where several Midwest exports, including pork, pass through to go overseas.
Even when he is working at Pig Hill, Mogler takes time to speak to his employees about the importance of their work.
“We produce enough pork to feed about 600,000 Americans every year. That’s kind of the way I look at it,” he said.
“When I’m talking to my employees, I’m saying, ‘You’re part of a system that is responsible for feeding a half million people, their pork needs for the year.’”