Lee and Ben Bader farm together as father and son
Tracing back six generations of farming, the Bader family continues the family tradition. Lee and Ben Bader, a father and son duo, farm together in Jesup, IA.
“Since the early years, our family has been on the farm,” Lee (dad) Bader said. “Today, it is a blessing to watch as the generational farm continues.”
Lee was raised on his family farm, the location his dad bought in 1958. In 1979, he started full-time farming, raising corn, soybeans, and pigs alongside his dad.
“In the early years, my family farm involved pasture farrowing and confinement farrowing until building a new barn in 1993,” Lee said. “In 1998, we quit farrowing and started purchasing weaned pigs for our grow-finish operation.”
As the years went on, the farm and family continued to grow. Lee and his wife, Deb, raised five children on the farm, hoping at least one would come back to farm someday. In 2008, Lee and Deb’s dream came true.
After obtaining a degree in Agriculture Systems Technology at Iowa State University, Lee and Deb’s son, Ben, returned to the family farm, with hopes to continue the operation another generation.
“From the beginning, I loved the farm,” Ben said. “Raising my kids on the farm was a motivating factor for me to return home.”
Ben and his wife, Anna, have three daughters, Molly (4), Leah (3), and Maddie (1). Lee sold Ben the homestead, the site with the feed mill and hogs, to live and raise his family on.
“I had the opportunity to grow up on the farm, and it is great to be able to give my girls the same opportunity. I love to see my kids and wife in the yard multiple times a day.”
Although the girls are still young, Ben enjoys bringing the girls to the pig barn for daily chores.
“I still have to carry two of them, but as my oldest grew up, she has become more comfortable with the pigs and started walking through the barns herself,” Ben said. “It is rewarding to know your kids have a good grasp of the importance of taking care of the land and animals. They know where their food comes from, and not many kids today are exposed to that.”
“The girls have common sense of how the world works because of the farm. I cannot wait to watch them develop and grow into the people they will become.”
Establishing a Plan
“From day one, I had ownership and responsibility at the farm,” Ben said. “There is an advantage of working with family. It was an easy transition and my dad has been a real supporter of me being a part of the operation.”
After returning to the farm in 2008, Ben bought a portion of the hogs from Lee, with the intent to farm together.
“From the start, I was not just a ‘hired man’ to my dad,” Ben said. “I have always had responsibility, and together we are working to establish a transition for the future.”
As the operation continues to grow, Ben hopes to begin positioning the farm for the next generation, just as his dad, Lee, did for him.
Over the past 15 years, the Bader family has been active members of the Pipestone family.
“In 2004, I made one of the best decisions in my career investing in Pipestone,” Lee said. “As an independent hog producer, it was an excellent investment. Pipestone’s attitude, goals and direction is important, but most importantly, they are passionate about both animals and people.”
As technology continues to improve, Lee and Ben continue working with Pipestone to further improve their operation.
“As we continue to expand, we need to focus on becoming more efficient every day,” Lee said. “If you do the right things and improve throughout, opportunities will come your way. Be efficient and be ready to take on the next opportunity.”
The most recent advancement for the family involved purchasing ownership into Wholestone. Although this was a business decision, Lee and Ben feel this is one step closer to reaching the consumer.
“Whether we like it or not, the customer drives what we do,” Ben said. “Agriculture is no different. We need to share our family farmer story and tell individuals where their food comes from. Wholestone is one step closer to reaching our consumers.”
As each day goes on, Lee and Ben Bader continue to promote agriculture and share their family story. From bringing pigs and equipment to the elementary school and giving virtual and on-farm tours to individuals nearby and far away, to sharing skills, tips and challenges of farming to future farm kids at the High School Career fair, Lee and Ben are committed to agriculture education and educating the next generation of farmers.
“My advice to those interested in farming is to be diversified through experiences,” Ben said. “Whether it’s an internship or job experience, the diversification will help back on the farm.”
“Be open to change and different ideas,” he said. “It is easy to get set into our own world of farming, but you have to keep improving and be open to begin the transition to the next generation early on.”
By: Abby Hopp, Marketing Coordinator