A Tradition of Growing Only the Best
Growing Latham’s high-quality soybeans has become a legacy for many farm families, as Steve and Karen Bruns demonstrate from their North Central Iowa farm.
“I have enjoyed working with everyone at Latham Seeds,” says Steve Bruns, who’s been a contract grower of Latham® seed beans since 1999. While he was in high school, Steve worked on weekends and during the summer for Latham grower Hugh Porterfield. Steve later custom-farmed Hugh’s ground for 20 years.
“The people I work with at Latham are the ones I’ve known since grade school,” adds Steve, who grew up northeast of Alexander, Iowa, on a farm his grandfather purchased in 1949.
Finding Farming Again
Like many young people, Steve left the area for a few years before he decided to choose farming as his livelihood. Sadly, Steve’s father developed cancer around that same time.
“I had to quickly take over the farm, right in the middle of the Farm Crisis,” says Steve, whose father, Dean, was just 44 years old when he passed. “Luckily, I didn’t have the chance to accumulate a lot of debt, which forced a lot of our farmers out of business during those turbulent years.”
What’s Next for Pork Producers
During the 1980s and 1990s, the pork industry changed a lot. Contracts to hog producers allowed for a steady income and took away the market swings. Steve got back into the pork industry in 2000 and operated a 4,000-head site for 20 years. As a top Iowa pork producer, his family’s photo was displayed outside the Animal Learning Center at the Iowa State Fair in 2005.
Although he’s no longer producing pork, Steve uses hog manure for fertilizer on as many acres as he can.
“Hog manure gives an extra yield bump if conditions are right when it’s applied,” he says. “We’ve seen a 10- to 20-bushel yield bump when manure has been applied under the right conditions.”
The Bruns Family
Now that he has retired from pork production, Steve hopes to have more time for golfing, fishing and hunting. Karen retired from the postal service after 21 years. She enjoys sewing, walking, gardening, traveling and spending time with family. The couple has three grown children: Eric, Jami and Lindsey.
The Bruns family enjoys gathering at the farm for great meals like this Ground Pork Casserole, a recipe passed down by Steve’s grandmother Elsie.
Ground Pork Casserole
- 1, 12-ounce package wide egg noodles
- 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- Fresh mushrooms (optional)
- 1 can Cream of Celery Soup
- 1 package dry Lipton® Mushroom Onion Soup
- 1 pound Velveeta cheese, diced
- 1 can water
- Cook noodles according to package directions; drain.
- Brown pork with onion and green peppers.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine all together in a greased 9x13 pan.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.