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Verhey Family

Making Moves to Assist Next-Gen Farmers

When most of the world was shutting down, Romney, Indiana, farmers Nancy and Roger Verhey were expanding their operation to incorporate the next generation of Verhey farmers.

“Our intent all along was to fold the next generation into the farm,” Roger says. “That’s the plan, but it doesn’t always happen, so it’s nice when they choose to come back home.”

Before 2020, the Verheys had begun the process of expansion, building on-farm housing for 8,000 more hogs. The addition brings the farm’s total hogs to 16,000.

Indiana natives, the couple founded Verhey Farms in 1988. The Verheys’ oldest son, Cody, operates the livestock side of the farm. Youngest son, Clayton, helps out with a wide range of row crops, including dent corn, waxy corn, wheat and soybeans, along with a full-time job as safety coordinator for Fastenal.

Their livestock-row crop mix means the farm family is always busy. While the crops are seasonal, the farm’s 16,000 hogs are a year-round venture.

“This is our transition plan. Our oldest son, Cody, came back to the farm and built two hog barns in 2013. Now that he’s decided to stay, we’ve merged into a new partnership that includes, Cody, Clayton, Nancy and Myself, operated as VSF,” Roger says.

The farm’s expansion is a matter of economics as well as family dynamics. In addition to raising more hogs for Indiana Packers, increasing hog numbers allows the farm to capture more manure for fertilizer.

Hog manure is recycled on-farm as row-crop fertilizer. The manure adheres well to the soil and breaks down faster than commercial fertilizer. Hog manure’s high organic matter content also improves nutrient uptake and builds soil organic matter.

Completing construction and continuing to ship hogs during the state’s shutdown had some challenges.

“So far, it’s worked out wonderfully,” Roger says. “We started building and it was in the process already before COVID-19 hit. Adding two more quads also helped us keep our employees busy.”

Construction was held up for about two to three weeks on one barn and a month or so on another barn, but the Verheys were able to make on-time hog deliveries in 2020.

“There were some struggles when our pens were at capacity, but we made it work,” Roger says. “For the mostpart, it worked out better than we had anticipated.”

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