Niman Ranch, the natural meat pioneer known for its Certified Humane products available in mission-driven restaurants and specialty grocers nationwide, recognized the Nuessmeier Family Farm of LeSueur, Minnesota as the first recipients of their Sustainable Hog Farmer of the Year Award.
The inaugural recipients of the Niman Ranch Sustainable Hog Farmer of the Year honor are celebrated for their decades of efforts to preserve their farmland and conserve natural resources. 19-year Niman Ranch partners, brothers Tim and Tom Nuessmeier along with their family, are fifth generation farmers. The Nuessmeiers raise pigs outdoors, grow organic crops using sustainable practices including crop rotation and buffer strips and have dedicated pollinator habitat among many other environmentally conscious practices on their diversified farm. The family farm was recognized as a Century Farm in 1975 and is going on 150 years in operation.
Tim and Tom inherited their passion for preserving the natural world from their parents, who always incorporated diversified, traditional farming practices on the family farm. In the 1990s, they installed terraces to reduce erosion on their farmland and have continued the sustainability journey through today, regularly incorporating new sustainable farming practices season after season.
“We have always believed that wild nature—birds, insects, mammals—should have a place to coexist on a working farm,” Tim explained of their family’s commitment to biodiversity. The family has land in the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program where they have seen robust pollinator life and biodiversity take hold. They have dubbed the area a “songbird commons” due to the many ground-nesting native songbirds that live among the native plants.
The Nuessmeiers credit their Niman Ranch pigs as the key linchpins in their diversified sustainable farm. The pigs provide rich compost from their manure and bedding that the Nuessmeiers then apply to their land to maintain nutrients and build soil health. With certified organic crops, they rely on this naturally produced compost rather than synthetic fertilizers. Tim explained that organic crops provide the benefit of higher value markets and the practices are attuned to their preference to not using herbicides or pesticides. Additionally, “in going organic you need a much more diversified cropping rotation, which benefits insects and birds,” Tim shared.
Sustainability is foundational to Niman Ranch with all farmers in the network sharing the commitment to protect and preserve the land for future generations. Niman Ranch farmers raise livestock on pasture or in deeply bedded pens with plenty of space to root, roam, play and exhibit all their natural instincts. In 2019, Niman Ranch announced a $200,000 fund to help farmers in the network expand or adopt new sustainable farming practices to protect pollinators, build soil health and preserve water quality. Niman Ranch has the goal of building the largest network of independent family farmers supporting pollinators.
“I applaud the Nuessmeier family for this well-deserved award,” said Chris Oliviero, Niman Ranch General Manager. “They have spent decades continually adopting new practices to conserve natural resources and support biodiversity. The rewards of these investments are clear with the robust wildlife, insects, pollinators and healthy soil they boast on their farm today. I am proud to call Tim and Tom nearly 20-year partners with Niman Ranch and believe they are a model for diversified, sustainable agriculture.”
Source: Niman Ranch