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Gigstads value farm life, bring up kids with work ethic

Gigstads value farm life, bring up kids with work ethic

Master Farmer couple says they are enjoying watching their grandchildren grow up in same tradition

Craig and Tammy Gigstad both grew up on farms and knew they wanted a life in agriculture.

Married in 1983, they started a side-by-side family farming operation, utilizing their lifetime work ethic to transform their dreams into reality.

That work ethic translated to raising their family as they moved all three of their children into the family farrow to finish hog operation teaching them to work hard and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

They did not hire outside labor, instead teaching their children to work with new litters of baby pigs.

They cleared fields of rocks, picked up sticks after bulldozing, burned piles of brush and took down and replaced fencing.

HARD WORK: Tammy and Craig Gigstad take pride in their farm in Jefferson County, spending summers with repairs, clean-up and home improvements, including the recent addition of a stone nameplate sign for their back door.

"Over the years, we have received countless comments about our children and how great their work ethic is," Tammy says. "Nothing could make us prouder. Now, we watch our son and daughter-in-law carrying on the tradition in our grandchildren. Truly, our children have been the most important crop raised on our farm."

Their oldest son, Derek, farms with his dad and uncle, Kevin. Each of the three own and rent their own land, but they help each other with the work. He and his wife, Laura, have two children, Ryker, 5 and Axton, 3.

Their daughter, Danae, is a graduate of Kansas State University with a degree in chemical engineering. She works as a manufacturing engineer in the ethanol department of the Cargill corn milling facility in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Her husband, Justin Lillie, is a teacher for the Humboldt, Iowa school district.

 Their youngest daughter, Devin, graduated from Pittsburg State University with a bachelor's degree in nursing. She works a Registered Nurse in the Blood and Marrow Transplant Cancer Clinic at the University of Kansas Hospital.

Tammy has a career of more than 34 years as a music teacher, currently teaching at Jefferson County North

The Gigstads have been regular host for Ag Day on the Farm for third graders and K-8 Ag Day. Tamara has also completed the Ag in the Classroom course.

Both were involved in 4-H leadership during the years their children were growing up.

He is also involved in farm organizations, especially the Kansas Soybean Association, serving for 17 years as chairman, president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and representative to Capitol Hill. He has been a member of the United Soybean Board for four years where he is vice chair of the oil team,

He is also a member of the Jefferson County Farm Bureau, Kansas Livestock Association and the National Corn Growers association.

"I believe that it is critical for our farming community to be represented," he said. "Being a leader in the commodity groups has been very rewarding."

A solid commitment to value-added production
Value-added has always been central in farm management for Craig and Tammy Gigstad.

They started with direct marketing of their hogs through their local hometown locker plant and then through a direct-to-packer producer group to allow them to capture premiums for quality carcasses.

In 2001, the Gigstads were among the original stockholders in Lifeline Foods, a corn processing plant in St. Joseph, Mo. They marketed non-GMO corn through that facility for two years and they continue to work with AgraMarke, the marketing arm of Lifeline.

They are currently involved with the direct shipment of container soybeans to customers in China.

Both Craig and Derek have extensive on-farm grain storage, allowing them to market in the off-season.

They sell some corn to the ethanol plant at Atchison and soybeans are sold either through the container venture or to a soybean crushing plant in Kansas City.

Meet the Master Farmers:
Kevin and Barbara Alpers

Dwight and Cindy Baldwin

Ronald and Patricia Fredrickson

Ki and Kim Gamble

Craig and Tamara Gigstad

Don and Lois Martin

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