The Way We Live Award, sponsored by Pioneer, Iowa Farmer Today and the WHO BIG show, recognizes Iowa farm families who have demonstrated their dedication to agriculture.
Six families were chosen in 2019, according to a news release.
Demmer Family, Peosta
The Rick and Kathy Demmer family owns Le-O-La Holsteins, a dairy farm. The farm was started by Leo and Stella, Rick’s parents. In 1991, Rick and Kathy transitioned into ownership, and they built onto the original barn and doubled their herd size over the next few years.
Currently, they milk 83 registered Holsteins and two Jersey cows with around 150 young stock on the farm.
The family members have served in agriculture leadership roles in their community and Iowa and welcome visitors to their farm to learn about agriculture and the dairy industry. The Demmer children and family members were active in 4-H, Iowa Junior Holstein and participated in dairy quiz bowl and judging.
Todd and Wendy Hagen Family, Homestead
The Hagen family has been farming in the Homestead area for around 120 years. The crops grown on the Hagen family farm include corn, soybeans and hay, as well as a cow-calf operation. Todd began farming in 1983, and his son Taylor joined in 2018. Taylor is the fifth generation to farm in the Hagen family.
Todd oversees the day-to-day management of the farm while Wendy manages the bookkeeping, farm and family organization, and Taylor takes care of the crops, cattle and maintenance and repair of farm equipment.
Family farming traditions include participating in the county fair and having meals in the field during the fall harvest. Sons Taylor and Tanner were both active in 4-H, showing calves and doing agricultural projects.
Moretz Family Farms, Kensett
The Moretz Family Farms consist of row crops, including corn, soybeans and hay, and has a large focus on livestock with cow-calf and farrow-to-finish hog operations.
In 1969, Arthur and Sharon purchased the current home farm. Three generations, Arthur, Dean and Nathan, run the day-to-day operations of the farm by taking care of the cattle, repairs and crop work. Nathan and his wife Melissa handle the responsibilities of the wean-to-finish pigs. Nathan’s brothers, Mitchell and Timen, help in the spring and fall with field work and harvest. Dean’s wife Tanna runs the grain cart in the fall and helps move equipment in the spring. Sharon used to run the combine every fall.
Joel Sickelka Farm, Sutherland
On their family farm in Sutherland, the Joel Sickelka family raises cow-calf pairs and feed beef cattle, as well as grow soybeans, corn and hay. Joel works alongside family members to do the planting and harvesting, and his wife and children have helped by spending hours baling hay, fixing fence, picking up rocks and sorting cattle.
The Sickelka children were all involved in 4-H and the O’Brien County Fair.
M&C Anderson Pullets, Sioux Rapids
In 1968, Colleen “Coke” Anderson and her husband purchased a 270-acre farm in Clay County. Initially raising sheep and having a corn/soybean/alfalfa rotation, the farm has centered their focus on raising pullets. The farm currently raises 4 to 5 million pullets annually.
Coke is a member of the Iowa Poultry Association and an environmental committee member of United Egg Producer, as well as being a former chairman of the board of the American Egg Board and having served on the Iowa Egg Council.
Coke believes that “a job worth doing is worth doing well.” On the farm, there are a number of different jobs, and each one is important to the whole enterprise.
Cummings Family Farms, Pleasantville
The Cummings Family Farms have changed since their beginnings in 1955. In 1955, James Cummings returned home from the Air Force during the Korean War and moved his family to establish roots in rural Marion County. He raised hogs, dairy cattle, sheep and beef cattle. Today, James’ sons Don and Larry have transitioned their focus to row crops and cattle.
Don’s son Connor has joined the operation. Other business endeavors include fencing, tiling and auctioneering.
Don, Larry and Connor Cummings have served as swine superintendents for over 30 years at the Marion County Fair. Carly Cummings is the treasurer for the Pleasantville FFA Alumni chapter, and Connor’s wife, Haley, is a preschool teacher who uses the farm to educate her students about farming.