“We do what we love and try to get everybody involved,” Dave said. That involvement includes building the swine finishing portion of the farm, which gives the next generation a more diversified operation to carry on.
Each of the brothers plays a role with all family members pitching in to ensure work gets done. Dave leads the charge for the cattle and fertilizer, Tony leads the tillage with assistance from the next generation. Dave and Mike plant the corn and soybeans, and Mike manages transportation. When it comes to the swine barns, it’s all hands on deck.
“We have coveralls and boots in the barns for all sizes from 3T to the adults,” Mike’s wife, Cindy, said. “The generations are learning alongside each other.”
Over the years to ensure the farm remains healthy for future generations, the brothers have implemented several tactics to improve their sustainability. These include minimal tillage and adding solar panels at the swine barn. The solar energy helps cut their energy costs and puts power back on the grid.
When the Howards implemented the confinement swine operation, they diligently worked to ensure the community was aware of how the operation would function. They worked with Indiana Farm Bureau and Co-Alliance, their local cooperative, they addressed all permitting and environmental issues. They also met with their neighbors to let them know about the new operation. Before putting pigs in the new barns, they hosted a community open house so everyone could learn how the barns operate.
While the work on the farm is critical, it’s the off-farm activities that separate the Howard family. They are active in their community, providing support for little league teams, FFA chapters and 4-H clubs.
“Our family has been blessed and we try to give back,” Tony said. They also assist local, mobile food banks and mission centers, donating pork for the trucks and volunteering their time to distribute food.
This is another example of showing the next generation the importance of serving their community.
“When we donated the pork, we wanted all our kids to be there,” Tony’s wife, Beth, explained. “Our kids go to their cabinets and there is food there. Other people don’t have that opportunity.”
The Howards work to educate their community about their lifestyle and agriculture, hosting daycare groups out at the farm. They also work with affiliated groups such as Co-Alliance and Indiana Pork to share information on social media and podcasts.
The brothers’ humble nature makes their community service acts a natural part of the operation.
“We’re honest, we work hard and try to treat everybody fair,” Dave said. “We try to be good neighbors. If we don’t want something out our back door, we wouldn’t put that on someone else.”
The focus is clear at Howard Swine Farm – finding ways to keep the future generations on the farm, feeding their families, taking care of the land and helping their neighbors. It’s just the way they do business.