DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced that the Keith and Julie Van Waardhuizen Family from rural Oskaloosa in Mahaska County are the winners of the February “Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award.”
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey will present the award to the family at the Iowa Cattlemen’s Convention in Ottumwa on Friday, Feb. 25. The event is being held at the Bridgeview Center, 102 Church Street, in Ottumwa. WHO Radio’s “Big Show” will broadcast live at the presentation from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
“Keith and Julie are great farmers who care for their animals, their land, their neighbors and their entire community,” Northey said. “The Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award was created to recognize families like this that are an example of the great livestock farmers we have in this state.”
The Van Waardhuizen Family have a cow-calf operation with 150 cows, a feedlot where they raise around 900 cattle, including a 600-head monoslope, deep-bedded cattle barn. In addition, the family has a custom pork production facility where they have 4800 pig spaces. Keith and Julie have three children, including one at Iowa State studying Veterinary Medicine.
Mark and Janine Moore nominated the Van Waardhuizen family for the award, citing the family’s willingness to go above and beyond to lend a helping hand to anyone in need and be a voice for famers.
Their nomination said, “Through the years, Keith and Julie have been key representatives of farmers everywhere. They have been host to many events at their farm over the years, including an EID (Electronic Identification Devices) meeting sponsored by the Farm Bureau, a Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) meeting sponsored by the Iowa Beef Industry Council, the Farm Bureau Farm & City tour, a tour sponsored by the Corn and Soybean Growers Associations for a group from Argentina, and an Ag in the Classroom day for college students from William Penn University; focusing with each group to educate them on beef production in the U.S.”
In addition to all their work on the farm, the family is active in the Ebenezer Reformed Church in Leighton. Keith was also involved with the Lake Keomah Watershed Project, held a seat on the Extension Council, and was a 10-year member of the Farm Service board.
The Van Waardhuizen’s have also been recognized by the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association as the Commercial Producer of the Year and by the Iowa Pork Producers as a Master Pork Producer.
The Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award, made possible through the financial support of The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers, recognizes Iowa livestock farmers who take pride in doing things right. This includes caring for the environment and their livestock and being good neighbors. It is named in memory of Gary Wergin, a long-time WHO Radio farm broadcaster who helped create the award.
Anyone interested in nominating their neighbor for the award should write a letter or e-mail explaining why their neighbor should receive this designation. Applications may be submitted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Attn: Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award, Henry A. Wallace Building, Des Moines, IA 50319 or emailed to Communications@iowaAgriculture.gov.
Northey, a corn and soybean farmer from Spirit Lake, is serving his second term as Secretary of Agriculture. His priorities as Secretary of Agriculture are promoting the use of science and new technologies to better care for our air, soil and water, and reaching out to all Iowans to tell the story of Iowa agriculture.