April Hemmes 2When it comes to farming — specifically as a FarmHer — April Hemmes’ resume speaks for itself.

Besides earning her Animal Science degree from Iowa State University, April has served in leadership roles for the United Soybean Board, USDA Foreign Ag Service Technical Advisory Council and the U.N. Food Security Summit . . . just to name a few. She’s been described as a trailblazer for women in ag — a reference she humbly dismisses and appreciates at the same time.

“I really don’t think you are a trailblazer if you are just doing what you love and pursuing your dream,” April says. “I hope the fact that I farm gives other young women hope that someday they may be able to go home and work on their family farm and manage it, too!”

April lives on the farm her great grandfather bought in 1901. It was always a diverse operation, so when she came home to farm, April knew she could have hogs too. They cleaned out an old building and turned it into a farrowing house with raised crates that April bought from a nearby producer who’d gone out of business. She bought 30 gilts, started a farrow-to-finish operation and farmed with her grandpa and her dad.

Gramp ape combine

April with her grandfather

When the market went to 9 cents a pound in the late 1990’s, April retreated from the hog business to focus more on the 60-head cow calf herd she had purchased from her dad by then.

“I really liked having hogs around,” April says. “But something had to go.”

Business decisions like that helped propel April into a lifetime of farming that has captured headlines as  “Midwest Farm Mom of the Year” and on the cover of “Successful Farming” magazine. Her husband, Tom Kazmerzak, always has worked in town and not on the farm. April has been the owner and operator of her family’s century farm south of Hampton, Iowa for more than 40 years, raising corn, soybean and pasture land.

“Farming has always been what I wanted to do with my life,” April says. “I always helped on the farm and knew education and experience would be the best way to be ready for the challenge.”

One of April’s secrets to success is getting up early to answer emails so other farmers feel heard.

“The most gratifying thing I hear is when another farmer thanks me for what I am doing,” she says. “It really means a lot to me.”

The other secret to her success? Sheer stubbornness.

“I did not have a father who encouraged me to farm, but I was always expected to do everything on the farm,” April says. “I’m very proud to carry on the tradition of farming. It’s my love, my life and my legacy.”

Enjoy April’s favorite cookie recipe below.

Hard Molasses Cookies


  • ¾ cup cooking oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • ½ tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt


  • Mix together cooking oil, sugar, molasses, and egg.
  • Sift flour, soda, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.
  • Mix with first 4 ingredients.
  • Refrigerate overnight.
  • Roll into 1 inch balls.
  • Roll in sugar.
  • Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes.