Jeff and Christy Hibbs Named 2017 Iowa Outstanding Commercial Producers
The 2017 Outstanding Commercial Producers not only operate a successful commercial Angus herd and finish their own calves, but they also sell direct to consumers through a small storefront.
Jeff and Christy Hibbs have their hands full with their farm, Hibbs Farms, and small business, The Market off Main, in Albion. But their passion for the industry and the opportunity to see their product through to the end consumer makes each piece of the full-circle operation worth it.
At nine years old, Jeff got his start with the cattle industry when he took out a loan from the local bank to purchase his first 4-H calf. That experience set Jeff down the path to become a lifelong beef producer. At 19, Jeff began raising cattle as an occupation when he borrowed the down payment from his grandmother for his first farm.
In 1981, Jeff and Christy were married and they have been growing and improving their operation ever since. Hibbs’ breeding cows, mostly Angus crossed with Simmental and South Devon, graze ample pastureland that is part of the crop and livestock operation. Continuous herd improvement is obtained from a breeding program which focuses on maternal traits, market performance and feed efficiency. Calving takes place in both the spring and fall to accommodate their direct marketing demands.
This direct marketing approach is one way in which the Hibbs have thought outside the box with their farming operation. Along with selling their finished calves to Iowa Premium Beef LLC in Tama, the Hibbs also sell to the Isle of Capri Casino in Waterloo. They also have 50 head processed annually to sell custom or at The Market off Main, a local market owned and operated by the Hibbs.
The Hibbs are proud to operate their own market where they are able to sell Hibbs Farms Premium Angus Beef, which consistently grades 80 percent Choice or better. Their beef consistently places in the top five in the Beef of Merit Show at the Iowa State Fair. In 2008 alone, three of the top 10 placing carcasses were from Hibbs Farm cattle.
The building that houses “the market” was originally purchased to serve as a farm office and storage facility for product and supplies used when the Hibbs participated in local farmer’s markets. But, as Christy says, “After telling a friend about the building purchase, she suggested we think about inviting other producers to place product in the building and have a farm fresh market.” Now, the market has 20-25 vendors in the store.
“Direct marketing,” Christy says, “is the best bang for our buck and a way to get our products in the hands of our friends and neighbors.”
Christy is also proud to use the store as a location for agricultural education, talking with customers about agricultural production practices and answering questions about GMOs and antibiotic use. “There’s a whole group of people out there very concerned about their food - where their food comes from, how it was produced or raised; and in the case of livestock, what it’s fed, how it’s treated. Capturing that market has been a goal and afforded me an opportunity to do some education, especially in regards to how cattle are treated.”
Outside of farming and operating their market, Jeff and Christy are active community members and leaders, particularly enjoying their time spent helping youth. Jeff spends a large amount of time assisting 4-H members wanting to show cattle by allowing them to use space in his barn, advising them on their show skills and providing transportation to fairs and cattle shows. Jeff also serves as a member of the Marshall County Cattlemen’s Association as an at-large board member and past president, as well as a member of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.
The Hibbs have seen success in their beef operation by focusing on genetics, sound production practices and keeping an open mind about the future. Jeff and Christy want to continue to maintain a focus on the future for their daughter, Hannah, and nephew, Tanner, who make the sixth generation of Hibbs in Marshall County.
Jeff and Christy were nominated by Dave Nichols, who says, “If the Iowa Outstanding Beef Producer is one who makes sound use of natural and personal resources, promotes agriculture through outreach and example, is consistently innovative and productive; if the Iowa Outstanding Commercial Beef Producer looks to the future and grows his community as well as his cow herd and feedlot; if the Iowa Outstanding Commercial Beef Producer is one who blazes the trail and raises the bar for all who follow – then Jeff and Christy Hibbs are truly worthy of this coveted award and the recognition that goes with it.”