Sims Family Farms Mission
Provide high quality, safe food for consumers on a financially sustainable basis over time.
Why is our mission important?
We are a family farming business that has prospered for over six generations on the same land in western Illinois. Not only are we a small business supporting our family and our community, but we are also consumers of the very products that we produce. That makes strategies of caring for our water, our land, our environment, our animals, investing in technology and our employees critical to our future success, health and sustaining our business into the future for our children and grandchildren. We consider ourselves as an integral part of the U. S. Food Production System – the most productive, highest quality and lowest cost food system in the world.
I am a fifth generation farmer on our land along with my partners that include my wife, son, and daughter-in-law. In addition, we have organized our family farm in a way that my other children and their families, my sister and her family and cousins who grew up on this farm are able to maintain an investment in our family business if they so choose. I feel fortunate to have had parents and grandparents who provided a legacy of a family farming business where I could raise my family and provide an economic base for future generations. One critical principle passed on to me by my ancestors, was that “farming and agriculture is a business, not a way of life.” by of capital to grow and expand our business is from reinvesting the profits of our business. That places a special responsibility on each generation to make sound business decisions, so future generations of our family have the same opportunity I have had.
Our family farms 1396 acres that we own and another 204 acres that we rent from neighbors. Our major crops on this land are corn and soybeans. As part of our family business, we have a confinement swine business that markets 130,000 baby pigs per year. This business is managed by our son and involves approximately 20 employees to properly manage the business. All employees are sourced locally, and we maximize our purchases from local businesses including an agricultural cooperative where our son is a board member. We believe Rural America and its citizens can only thrive with sound businesses in our community supported by farmers like us. Our business manages expenses in excess of $5 million, the majority of which goes to pay our local employees, purchase operating and capital items and vendor services for the farm from our community. The products we produce are dependent on local, regional, national and international markets and our access to them.
To sustain and grow our business we have invested significantly in technology to manage our water resources, manage renewable nutrients and pesticides on our farm and constantly work to improve the fertility of our soil for the future. This requires continually updating the skills of all of us working in our business. Agriculture is following the technological advances in the world. One of our capital expenses for technology, is a John Deere tractor with GPS for $300,000 plus, which will allow us to increase production through precision placement of seeds and fertilizers. Our passion is to care for our soil and animals in the best way humanly possible to ensure high quality and safe products for our consumers. I have a passion for leaving our farming business in a better state for my children and grandchildren than when my wife and I started farming 47 years ago with my father and uncle.
Living, working, and raising a family in Rural America have been a special blessing for my family and me. That said, living in this special place is not a “spectator sport.” For our family and our community to be successful requires a great deal of volunteer leadership in all areas of our community and industry. For our family, it starts with a commitment to our church and religion and our local educational institutions. Our family has been deeply involved in these important institutions. From there our family, for several generations, has been active in local, state and national leadership positions for organizations that support agriculture and Rural America’s interests. We have learned that this kind of involvement is not only needed but our business interests have been enhanced from interaction with others in our various communities and industry.
Safety and the Environment
Agriculture is known to have larger risks of an accident than other walks of life. That makes constant training and vigilance of all those who work on our farm to minimize those risks. We also must protect our farmland and animals from safety and health risks to protect our products. Due to bio-security issues, we cannot allow the general public onto our farm and especially our swine operation due to the risk of disease to our animals and ultimately our food products. We utilize 3rd party risk assessments in our swine operation to make sure we are professionals in maintaining quality production practices and animal care practices for our animals.
Our livelihood depends on the quality and care of our farmland. I have long believed farmers were the first environmentalists. To care for our land, I have focused on controlling erosion of the soil by building tiled terraces, waterways and tiling our land. My family built a dam to not only capture soil from our fields, but to build a lake that can provide irrigation for our crops. Animal waste is used to minimize the application of commercial fertilizers on our land. Thanks to technology and new farming practices, we have been able to minimize the use of pesticides and fertilizers on our farm, yet significantly enhance our yields through improved soil fertility and crop genetics.
The agriculture industry and our family farming business long term success are completely dependent on the confidence and trust that the consuming public has in the food system. Thanks to sound scientific research, technology, and a strong and trusted regulatory system, our U.S. food system is the most successful and lowest cost food system in the world. Our society is blessed with an abundance of high-quality, low-cost food, readily available to local and global marketplaces. Today this great food system is being challenged by what we believe to be a growing suspicion by consumers of our use of science and technology in our food products. This suspicion is being often fueled by small groups that promote “non-scientific and unsubstantiated theories” about risks to our society’s health, environment, and animal welfare that ultimately scare consumers. As we look to the future of our families business, I am extremely concerned about the trend of these groups overly influencing consumers attitudes about the quality of our food system based on unsubstantiated and emotional arguments rather than sound science. This trend is a real threat to our industry!
As I begin my seventh decade on our family farm, I am proud of what we have accomplished in this important family endeavor and I am enjoying watching my son (the sixth generation) begin to take over the responsibility of sustaining this business for our family’s future generations.