November 14, 2013
Iowa Agriculture Council
Local farmers join with The HSUS to foster better animal welfare and environmental stewardship
Meet the local farmers who make up our Iowa Agriculture Council, the fourth in our growing system of state agriculture councils.
Chris is a firm believer that traditional family farmers practice higher animal welfare standards and are better stewards of the land and the environment. He further believes they produce a higher-quality and safer product for consumers.
"As an Iowa farmer, I believe family farmers and ranchers have much common ground with The HSUS when it comes to animal husbandry treatment," says Chris. "It's a positive step to work together to address the future of animal agriculture and find solutions to animal welfare challenges."
Chris is the immediate past president of the Iowa Farmers Union and has been an advocate on rural issues for over 30 years. He currently farms near Clear Lake, Iowa, with his wife, Kristi. He has two grown children and two grandchildren.
Garry Klicker has been involved in agriculture his entire life. He is a third-generation farmer and his agricultural roots can be traced back to the mid-1600s in Germany. Garry has worked as both a full-time and part-time farmer.
Garry has seen firsthand the problems that can be caused by the intense confined animal feeding operations. He became involved with raising awareness of this type of factory farm when one of these factory farms tried to build a location between the home of his mother and another elderly widow. Garry lives in an area with more than 20,000 confined hogs within four miles of his home.
Garry suffers from environmentally induced asthma and has witnessed his personal property values drop due to the CAFOs moving into his area. He currently is involved with the National Farmers Union, the Sierra Club, and other organizations that work for higher animal welfare standards and to protect the environment.
Marian Kuper farms along with her husband on their family farm in Hardin County. The operation primarily consists of raising corn and soy beans, but also includes raising beef calves. Marian is a firm believer that animals need plenty of space and good fresh air in order to thrive, and that is how their beef calves live. They feed the calves a limited amount of locally grown corn while they are on pasture. They do not feed any antibiotics, hormones, or other additives to their livestock.
Marian enjoys the companionship provided by dogs and cats, but believes livestock can provide that and more. The cattle also provide a supplemental income and food for the family. She understands that caring for the animals is the most important chore on the farm and it is those chores that give structure and meaning to the life of a family farmer.
Gary Hoskey has been involved in agriculture his whole life. He has been actively farming since he was 16 years old and was a member of the Future Farmers of America. Back in 1963, he received the Iowa Star FFA Farmer degree and a year later the Iowa Star FFA Livestock degree. He also served as the Iowa State FFA vice president.
Gary has been an active member of the Iowa Farmers Union for many years. He served that organization as its vice president for several years and later as president for three years. As a concerned citizen and agriculturalist, he has been involved on both the local and state level advocating for social, environmental, and economic issues that affect farmers and rural communities.
Gary's farming operation consists of row crops as well and cattle and hogs. Gary and his wife, Geri, will have been married 50 years in December and are the proud parents of four children and eight grandchildren.
John Gilbert and his wife, Bev, are farming today on the land his family settled in the 1870s. Their son John and his wife, Sarah, are also involved in the farming operation. Furthermore, John's brother Greg and his wife, Barb, still work to keep this family farm in Hardin County, Iowa, running smoothly.
The Gilberts' farming operation consists of grains and forages that are not only raised and sold but also used to feed their livestock. The livestock operation includes a Brown Swiss dairy herd and humanely raised, antibiotic-fee pigs that are sold to Niman Ranch and marketed locally.
John served 14 years as a commissioner for the Hardin County Soil and Water District. He also is a board member of the Iowa Farmers Union and the Southfork Watershed Alliance, and is a long-time member of the Practical Farmers of Iowa.
John and Bev also have another son, James, who—along with his wife, Carly—has a daughter, Kate.
Tom Frantzen and his wife of 37 years live and work the same farm he was born on more than 60 years ago. His parents bought the family farm near New Hampton, Iowa, during the Great Depression.
Tom runs a 100-percent certified organic, diversified mixed crop and livestock operation. Tom currently runs 65 beef cows and feeds out the weaned calves as well as the pigs from his 35 sows. All the animals are marketed through the CROPP Co-op Organic Valley organization under the Organic Prairie program. He has been a member of this co-op since 1998.
The Frantzen family farm consists of 300 acres, using a four- and seven-year crop rotation to take care of the land while maximizing productivity. Tom is a past president of the Practical Farmers of Iowa and is proud to have been actively involved in promoting sustainable agricultural practices for many years.
Tom has three grown children and one grandchild.