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Friday, October 6, 2017

Dustin Vande Hoef
515/281-3375 or 515/326-1616 (cell)


Award to be presented Oct. 13 at the Republic Community Church in rural Ionia

DES MOINES – The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship today announced that Leon and Barb Sheets from Chickasaw County have been named the winners of the Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award.  The Sheets family operates a 4th generation farm and has been raising hogs as part of their operation for nearly 40 years.

Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig will present the award to the family on Friday, Oct. 13 at the Republic Community Church, 1794 280th St., Ionia.  The “Big Show,” which airs on both WHO and WMT radio, will broadcast live from the presentation.

“Livestock farmers add so much to our state and rural communities and the Good Farm Neighbor award is designed to recognize and highlight the many producers across the state that go above and beyond to care for their animals, protect the environment and serve their neighbors and community,” Naig said.  “Leon has been a leader in the pork industry for decades and it is great to be able to recognize him with this award.”

The family was nominated for the award by their neighbor JoAnn Tupper, who said “Leon represents some of the best in pig farming.  He has taken the lead on animal welfare and implementing the newest technology to constantly improve his farming operation.”

Tupper specifically highlighted Sheets’ environmental stewardship, animal husbandry and community involvement.

To protect the environment, the Sheets use crop rotation, plant cover crops and have installed terraces, grassed waterways and buffer strips. The family received an Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award in 2017 in recognition of the steps that have been taken on their farm to prevent erosion and protect water quality.  

Sheets was named a Master Pork Producer by the Iowa Pork Producers Association in 1984 and inducted in to the Association’s Feeder Pig Hall of Fame in recognition of production excellence and contributions to the pork industry.

Leon is also very involved in a wide array of Iowa agriculture organizations.  He has served as the President of the Iowa Pork Producers Association and is also a member of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and Iowa Soybean Association.

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  They can also visit the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers website to submit a nomination electronically at



Mailing Address: IDALS,  Wallace State Office Building,   502 E. 9th Street,  Des Moines, IA 50319:     PH: 515-281-5321
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