Before Ben Luebbering could even tie his shoes, he was feeding pigs with his dad.
Growing up on a 160-sow, farrow-to-finish farm, Ben gained a passion for the swine industry from an early age. He even recalls “carpet farming” the floor of his living room when he wasn’t helping around the farm.
Ben was one of three named a 2019 Pig Farmer of Tomorrow, a program established by the Pork Checkoff to “recognize, inspire and connect the next generation of American pig farmers.” Applicants for the program must be between the ages of 18-29, be involved in raising pigs in the U.S., use the industry’s We Care Principles and follow other application guidelines.
As a Pig Farmer of Tomorrow, Ben shares his farming story with consumers on the National Pork Board social media platforms through the campaign, Real Pig Farming.
“For me, it was an opportunity to start sharing my story,” Ben said. “Not that I didn’t talk to people about my farm when they asked questions, but I hadn’t really found an avenue to share that on social media and I thought this would be a great way to start getting used to it.”
Ben is set to graduate from MU in December of 2020, with a degree in agribusiness management and a minor in animal sciences. Following graduation, Ben plans to return to his family’s farm near St. Thomas, Missouri.
“The swine industry is gaining a lot of new technology that allows us to be more efficient,” Ben said. “It’s a challenge to keep up with, but I think that’s why it’s so exciting for me because each day I get to wake up and implement new things into my herd to try and make it better to raise more pigs to feed more people. I get to work on improving something that my family has worked on for 50 years.”
Chris and Emily Luebbering, Ben’s grandparents, started his family’s farm, Profits Point Farm, in 1968. Ben’s grandparents still help run the farm, along with Ben’s dad, Doug, and uncle, Myron. Aside from raising pigs, the Luebberings have a cow-calf operation and grow row crops that are turned into feed for the animals.
Ben returns home on the weekends to assist with the farm. Many of his duties surround the farrowing house.
“Animal welfare on our farm is No. 1,” Ben said. “That’s why the first thing I do when I go into the barn is look at the pigs. I want to make sure every pig is healthy and that I don’t need to treat them. I’ve spent nights sleeping in the farrowing house making sure the moms are moving along through the farrowing process and that I’m there for them if they need something.”
When Ben returns to his family’s farm after graduation, he plans to continue his commitment to animal welfare through implementing new technology in the farrowing houses and by improving the farm’s record-keeping systems, something he will be equipped to do with his degree in agribusiness management.
“People forget that farming is a business,” Ben said. “I decided that if I knew the financial aspects, if I knew better record-keeping systems, and more about taxes and things like that, that it would help further our operation and make it more viable for the future.”
To further ensure the farm stays viable after Ben returns full-time, the Luebberings have been adding more sows and have plans to build new farrowing houses.
“I’m pretty excited to go back and implement new things on the farm and see where the pig industry takes me,” Ben said.