Monday, December 29, 2014

We Are Indiana Agriculture: The Fosters

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Meggie Foster and her husband, Dallas, live in Greenfield along with their two daughters, Reagan, 4, and Ruby, 1.  Dallas and Meggie are proud to be raising their daughters on their family farm.  Meggie works full-time off-farm for Indiana Farm Bureau where she works with young farmers and women’s program leaders.  She explains that, in their free time, they love to spend time with their family, travel and attend cow shows.  Meggie grew up on a registered Jersey farm in central Ohio and still owns a small herd of registered Jersey cows.

The Fosters farm in Hancock County and Rush County as well as Meggie’s family farm in Marion County, Ohio.  “Dallas is the fifth generation to farm in Indiana, and I am the sixth generation farmer in my family.  Dallas’ family raised purebred hogs and sheep for many years before transitioning to commercial hogs in the mid-1990s.  Beginning in the 1920s, the Foster family traveled the country showing purebred sheep and swine, hosting hog sales at the home farm in the 1980s, inviting special guests such as Vice President Dan Quayle and Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz.  Dallas’ father liquidated the hog herd in 2005, and Dallas and I began our farming operation the following year.  We have grown our farm from a 50-sow, single-site farm to a 600-sow multi-site operation today.”

Meggie looks back on her childhood and feels blessed to have had the opportunity to grow up on a farm.  “While my classmates played video games, I was outside playing with the pony, the dogs or my pet goat.  I have always loved animals and exploring outside.  I absolutely loved feeding the baby calves and working alongside my dad, milking the cows.  I feel blessed that I grew up on the farm learning the meaning of responsibility--caring for the land and the animals.  I hope to instill the same sense of responsibility in my girls.”

When asked what she feels is one of the biggest challenges farmers face today, Meggie has a hard time narrowing it down to just one.  “Farmers face challenges every day, wondering if we will get too much rain or not enough to grow our crops.  The considerable over-regulation of livestock farms by government agencies and volatility in the grain and hog markets are additional challenges.  In addition, the growing distrust by consumers has many farmers concerned about the future, but I’m confident that farmers will make mindful and sustainable adjustments in production to continue to provide enough healthy food to feed the world.”

With many consumers being about three generations removed from the farm, Meggie wishes that they could all have the opportunity to meet the farmers behind their food.  She wants consumers to know that food is not raised in a factory; food is grown by family farmers across the country.  “Animals are raised with caring hands and hearts.  I want the consumers to know the generations of family farmers who have inspired improvements in how we farm and that those improvements created the efficiencies that allow farmers to provide the best care possible to their livestock and to spend just a little more time with their families.  I want them to know how many farmers woke up earlier than usual to milk the cows before their kids woke up on Christmas morning to unwrap Christmas presents.  I want them to know that farmers are just like you and want a healthy and safe food supply more than anyone.”

When four-year-old Reagan was asked what is her favorite part of living on a farm, her reply was, “Riding in the tractor with my daddy, especially when he lets me drive!”  Meggie echoes that sentiment by saying, “I feel very blessed to raise our girls on the family farm.  I want our girls to grow up with a good work ethic as demonstrated by their dad; and learn responsibility through caring for their own animals in the 4-H program.  I want our girls to discover the joy in farming and also understand how to learn and grow from challenges along the way.”

You can read more about Meggie and their farm by visiting Meggie’s blog:

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