PORK MONTH FEATURE
By Pete Temple, Express Sports/Ag Editor
The Kevin and Ben Brownell hog confinement just south of Wyoming is an example of a variety of factions working together to develop a successful enterprise.
The building, 285-by-71 feet, houses 2,480 hogs through the Brownells’ company, Two B Pork, LLC. Financing was obtained through Shelia Smith, vice president of the Citizens State Bank in Manchester.
“We visited with both Kevin and Ben, worked through the loan application process, proceeded to come down and look at the site, and went with it,” Smith said during an interview at the site.
Smith has been doing such work with Citizens for 10 years, and had assistance on this project from Nate Lynch, who also works in the Manchester office.
“Nate has worked closely with me on this project,” she said.
The Brownells own and manage the site,
“I like that with the integrators (i.e. Cargill), the investors do not own the hogs,” Smith said. “They own the building, the facilities, and provide the labor.
“In this particular case, Ben and Kevin are providing the labor. I know they’re going to take care of it, which is important to us as lenders.”
Kevin Brownell said the idea for a hog confinement was first discussed about three years ago, but started to become reality after an ag company he worked for was sold.
“It was time that I had to do something,” Kevin said. “That’s when we met Shelia.”
Ben Brownell, Kevin’s son, spent a lot of time studying the concept.
“I’ve been doing research on these for two or three years,” Ben said. “I knew it was a supplemental income for myself as well as dad. It just made sense.”
Both Kevin Brownell and Smith said such a facility is just another sign of the modernization of the ag industry.
“You’ve got to keep up with the times,” Kevin said.
Shelia agreed: “We see that with all the ag industry right now. Not just pork, but also dairy, beef cattle, poultry, even vegetable farming.
“If you don’t keep up, you’re going to go out, simple as that. That’s just like with lending. If we don’t keep up with the times, we’re just going to sit there. You’ve got to be proactive.”
Smith said it’s a good investment for Citizens State Bank, as well.
“We’ve found, in the 10 years I’ve been doing these, that they work very well,” she said. “It’s a nice site. Kevin owns the ground around here, so they have a place for all the manure. The manure has value as well. In this particular case, after the first year, it will be sold, for so much a unit.
“We do site checks throughout the year. We do work with them if they have any problems.”
The bank has been honored for such work; in 2012 the Delaware County Pork Producers presented Citizens with the Associate Member of the Year Award for its support of the pork industry.
An open house for the facility was held Sept. 27, and attracted about 250 people.
Kevin’s wife Jana said: “It was excellent. We had very positive input. Everybody was real interested in everything. It was great.”
When the pigs come to the site, they weigh about 15 pounds, and will stay until finished, or about 260 to 270 pounds. Cargill owns the hogs, and sells them when ready.
The building has a number of modern features, including curtains that automatically raise and lower, and fans that go on and off, as the temperature changes.
“This is what I call a state-of-the-art building,” Smith said.
The feeders are automatic, sending more feed in when it runs low. If the feed gets sticky when traveling from the mill to the feeders, vibrators sense that there is no feed coming through, and kick on.
“That will make sure the feed is shaken down,” Smith said.
There is a washer and dryer, along with showers. The Brownells clean up and change clothes before leaving the facility.
“It just makes good sense to do it that way,” Jana said.
The site received its first pigs last week, with more to come. Dealing with them is nothing new for Kevin Brownell.
“I was born and raised on a farm,” he said. “I hauled livestock for about 12 years. I’ve been around hogs a lot.”
MEP Construction out of Manchester built the facility, with other area contractors involved. Electrical work was done by Ed Wulfekuhle of Delhi, while Stahlberg Construction of Hopkinton and Custom Dozing of Wyoming were involved as well.
“One thing about the integrators, they do a good job of using local contractors for their buildings,” Smith said.
Citizens State Bank offers a variety of agricultural loan products. It has locations in Monticello, Hopkinton, Ryan, New Vienna, Strawberry Point, Winthrop and Manchester.