Olivia Mudde with one of the newest additions to Mudde Farms. Olivia is currently studying at McGill University but plans on returning to the farm when she graduates and putting her education to good use doing something she loves. Tinkess Photo

SOUTH DUNDAS – When the people you represent encompass a wide demographic, sometimes you need to go where they are to understand what they do and the issues that matter to them. Several members of South Dundas Council and administration members did just that on Sat., April 13 as part of what is becoming a regular event: The South Dundas farm tour.

The tour began at 8:00 a.m. at Mudde Farms on Waddell Road where Ian Mudde and his daughter Olivia led their guests on a tour of their pig barn and associated structures.

Shortly after they arrived, those in attendance discovered how seriously the concept of biosecurity is to those who make their living in agriculture. Each person was required to don disposable coveralls and boot covers. As well, as they proceeded from building-to-building they needed to dip their feet in a tub of disinfectant solution.

According to Ian Mudde, his father started farming at this location in 1966 and the family has grown and developed it since then. In addition to the pig operation, they also have 2,000 acres of cash crops. It is a family business and Mudde is happy with that arrangement.

“Farming is tough any other way,” said Mudde, “Unless you get super big, and then it’s a whole other different game, right? I like where we are right now. We crop 2000 acres of land. So that’s a big part of our farm as well, but this is okay. I don’t think we need to…”

Mudde pauses for a moment then continues, “It’s all about trucks,” continues Mudde. “Everything comes in a truck. And it’s transport now, not feed trucks, no small feed trucks. They’re big trucks that bring feed so we’re big enough to take a complete load of soymeal, we’re big enough to bring in enough premix that it’s makes sense. And we’re big enough to ship 150 pigs, which is a trailer load that goes to Pennsylvania three times a month. And if we can stay that size, that’s as efficient as you can stay, as small as you can be. And maybe we do want to grow a little bit but well, you need 300 (pigs) to get a second truck. It’s a bigger job, you need more help.”

Whatever happens to Mudde Farms in the future, Olivia Mudde has decided she wants to be a part of it. “Just after COVID I think it really made me decide what I wanted to do,” said Olivia. “Back then obviously I had to be at home, right? Because you can’t go to school, we can’t do anything. So, I decided I’m really passionate about farming, so I just decided that was what I was going to do.

“I likely being on the farm, I like doing it,” said Olivia. “So, I decided that I would go to McGill. They have a Farm Management Technology programme. It’s three years. It’s not a degree, it’s like a mix between a diploma and a degree. Anyway, I’m in my second year of that, and I love it.  I learned new things, and I just want to bring everything I learned back to the farm and just make this place better, because I think it’s really important.”

Following the stop at Mudde Farms, the group moved on to three additional locations. At 9:00 a.m. they stopped at Broadgrain on Cook Road where site manager Ryan Douma gave the group a tour of the elevator and soybean processing facility.

The next stopped at the VanMoorsel farm on county road 28 in Glen Becker and were given a tour of the new free stall dairy barn by Jeff VanMoorsel.

The tour wrapped up with a stop at 11:00 a.m. at Cedar Lodge Farms where Warren and Arden Schneckenburger displayed some of the latest tractor and corn planter technology they use in their large cash crop operation.

Mayor Jason Broad explained why it is important for council to take the time for trips like this.  “We feel like on a daily basis, you know, we’re shopping in town and we’re seeing residents but it’s not normal that we have opportunity to visit a farm,” said Mayor Broad. “We may see farmers at events, we will see them around, but getting to visit a farm and talking to the farmer directly, and seeing what all is happening in all the different variations of farming in the community is important.”

In a community like South Dundas, you have a very diverse economy. There’s Ross Video in Iroquois, who are a leader in the broadcast technology sector while at the same time you’ve got agriculture all around you.  “Agriculture is the biggest industry in our community, you know,” added Mayor Broad, “And probably the employer next to Ross. So, it’s interesting the way we have a mix of agriculture and electronics in our community. It certainly makes us quite unique.”