📽️ Watch — Trails End Farm: Our Sustainability Story
Owned by Dale and Lori Stevermer, the Minnesota farm is a testament to five generations of stewardship and dedication to sustainable agriculture. The Stevermers are one of the first pork producers to be awarded the Advancing U.S. Pork Sustainability Grant.
Pig Farming for Purpose and Profit
At the heart of the Stevermers’ pride is their pork production operation. Every step is taken with utmost care and respect, ensuring that the pork produced on their farm is of the highest quality.
Trails End Farm grows about 450 acres of corn and soybeans. They plant cover crops on 90% of these acres between harvest and planting which protects against soil erosion and recycles nutrients for cash crops. Additionally, Trails End Farm raises an average of 4,000 pigs each year, with about 2,000 pigs in finishing barns at any time.
The Stevermers recognize the value of innovation and build on the practices started by generations before them. Adopting new practices does not go without challenges. To navigate these challenges, they participate in the Pork Cares Farm Impact Report program.
By leveraging this report, they’ve been able to evaluate their return on investment before they implement new technologies and practices.
The Stevermers’ dedication to sustainable practices and continuous improvement recently led to Trails End Farm being one of the first pork producers to be awarded the Advancing U.S. Pork Sustainability Grant. This grant, administered by the National Pork Board (NPB) and six collaborating organizations through USDA’s Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities program, supports farmers in adopting climate-smart agriculture practices.
Through this five-year, $35 million grant program, Trails End Farm has received technical support and financial incentives for adopting innovative practices in manure management and implementing edge-of-field and perennial grass buffers.
The results? Enhanced farm productivity, better care for pigs, less impact on the environment and long-term financial viability for their farm business.
A Cycle of Sustainability
There’s a beautiful symmetry to the operations at Trails End Farm. The nutrients used to feed the pigs are later recycled by utilizing the pig manure as nutrients for crops. This sustainable cycle is a thoughtful and efficient use of resources.
The Stevermers have also shifted their practices to embrace more sustainable approaches. Cover crops now capture nutrients and prevent erosion, which has improved soil structure and water infiltration since 2016 when the transition was made away from full-scale tillage.
“As a farmer, I feel a great responsibility to be a good steward of our resources,” Lori said. “It’s our responsibility to take good care of the land so the next generation can use it.”
Harnessing Solar Energy and Electric Mobility
Keeping pace with global trends, the farm has integrated solar panels to serve 100% of its energy requirements. This addition not only offsets the energy costs but also highlights their commitment to sustainable practices.
They recently purchased an electric pickup truck, which further emphasizes their willingness to try new technologies that offer a return on investment.
Stevermers’ Sustainability Impact Recognized Globally
By completing a Pork Cares Farm Impact Report for Trails End Farm, the Stevermers can highlight their substantial environmental achievements.
The report revealed Trails End Farm has:
This dedication to sustainability led to Dale being invited to present at the G7 Agricultural Ministers’ Meeting in Japan in April. During this global presentation, Dale shared Trails End Farm’s commitment to sustainably producing high-quality pork using their Pork Cares Farm Impact Report as proof.
As a result, it opened doors to business partnerships and bolstered the growth of U.S. Pork in the Japanese market. This is one successful example of the advantages of promoting pork as a sustainable protein in global outreach.
Respect for the Past
If previous generations were to visit Trails End Farm today, the Stevermers say they’d be filled with pride and amazement. They would admire the farm’s pursuit of improvement and the desire to make things better, all while keeping the farm’s heart and soul intact.
Tradition and Innovation
“I’ve been asked what my dad would think of the way I’m farming, and my response has always been my dad would be all in on this. He looked at how we could change and improve what we did, and how we could make it better.”
The farm has seen remarkable transformations over the decades, with modern technology being at the forefront. Yet, the spirit of the farm remains unchanged. It’s a place where the future is always in mind, ensuring the land remains productive for the coming generations.
Feeding the World
The Trails End Farm story is one of honor, respect, pride and innovation. In a world striving for sustainability, it shows us that innovation and tradition can coexist.
Pride and Honor
“As pig farmers, we’re raising a lean, wholesome, nutritious pork product that’s needed by many people. That’s an honor, and that’s what drives what I do every day and is one of the guiding principles for why I’m a farmer.”
Start Your Farm Sustainability Journey
Through the Pork Cares Farm Impact Report, pork producers can evaluate opportunities for new, innovative practices on farms that support profitability.
Together we can create a future where tradition and innovation coexist, leading to a more sustainable and prosperous pork industry.