Secretary Naig to Present the Steve and Linda Dolch Family with the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award
Montgomery County farm family recognized for their passion for service and commitment to their community
DES MOINES, Iowa (Sept. 13, 2023) – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig will present the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award to the Steve and Linda Dolch Family from Villisca during an event at 11 a.m. on Friday, September 15. The award presentation will take place at the Iowa FFA Enrichment Center at 1055 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy, Ankeny.
“Steve and Linda Dolch are not only wonderful neighbors and valued members of their community, but they have instilled the same passion for service and agriculture in their four children,” said Secretary Naig. “Combining their care for their cattle, their culture of conservation and their commitment to community, it’s clear that the Dolch family is deserving of the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award.”
Steve and his brother Vince established Dolch Brothers LLC on April Fool’s Day in 1972 after Steve, 22, graduated from Colorado State University and Vince, 20, graduated from Iowa State University. The farm started with help from the Production Credit Association and very little assistance from their parents. They ran a Model A John Deere tractor and a John Deere 4020 gas tractor to farm the 593 acres they purchased in southwest Iowa. Their first combine was a six-foot pull-type Ford with an 18-bushel grain bin that broke down during their first harvest. They used 5-gallon buckets to move grain from the 18-bushel grain bin into a 100-bushel grain box.
Today, more than 50 years later, the multi-generational farming operation is still operated by Steve and Vince with assistance from several family members, and includes a predominately Angus cow/calf herd, a small feedlot where the calves are fed out and 1300 acres of land that is used for pasture as well as to raise corn, soybeans and hay.
Steve and his wife Linda, a retired elementary school teacher of 37 years, are the parents of three sons, Matthew, Michael and Marshall, and one daughter, Mikayla. Matthew and his wife, Dana, have two children. Marshall and his wife, Adelai, have one daughter. All four of the Dolch children are employed in the agricultural industry and they remain the only family in Iowa with four siblings who all held state FFA offices.
A high standard of animal care is important to the Dolch family. Steve is BQA (Beef Quality Assurance) Certified. Tree shades are used throughout the feedlot and the Dolches also use fence line feed bunks. All the Dolch family’s calves receive initial care within 24 hours of birth, and they follow very stringent medicine withdrawal times for all cattle before any are marketed.
The family incorporates proven conservation practices, including minimum tillage and no-till. For the past two years, they have planted rye as a cover crop to limit soil erosion and provide feed for their cattle. They use grass border strips around their crop fields for hay. They have built miles of parallel bench terraces with metal intake pipes and have done miles of drainage tile for seep areas to drain water from terrace intakes. They have built two new ponds of an acre in size or larger and have rebuilt two existing ponds. They use precision technology for applying fertilizer, crop protection products and lime. They were one of the first farms in Montgomery County to be involved in the Hacklebarney Watershed First Land Treatment Initiative for the State of Iowa in 1984.
The Dolch family is actively involved in the community, and they were selected as Farm Family of the Year for Montgomery County in 2019. They attend the First Church of Christ in Atlantic. Steve is President of the East Ridge Estates I Condo Association in Atlantic, serves on the board of the Montgomery County Farm Bureau and is a member of the Iowa Soybean Association. He previously served on the Farm Credit Services of America Nominating Committee and the Iowa FFA Alumni Association Board, an organization he has been actively involved with since 1964. Steve is a past board member of the Mills-Montgomery Cattlemen’s Association and the family has volunteered for 28 consecutive years at the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters at the Iowa State Fair. He has been a board member on the Villisca/Stanton Co-op, has volunteered with the Boy Scouts, has been involved with Ag in the Classroom, and has been a judge at state and district FFA contests. Steve is proud to have exceeded the donation of five gallons of blood through the American Red Cross and was in the Air Force ROTC while in college.
The Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award is made possible through a partnership with the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) and The Big Show on WHO Radio. This award recognizes Iowa livestock farmers who take pride in caring for the environment and their livestock and have demonstrated a commitment to their community. The award is named in memory of Gary Wergin, a long-time WHO Radio farm broadcaster who helped create the award.