Mike Tate Celebrates 20 Years with Iowa Select Farms

posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Congratulations to Mike Tate for celebrating 20 years with Iowa Select Farms!

While it’s common for many managers to have started their career as an entry-level caretaker, not many can say they manage the very farm they started at; however, Tate can!

In 1999 Tate was a recent high school grad looking for a job that would help pay the bills. Although not many people knew about Iowa Select Farms back then, his stepdad worked for the company and encouraged him to apply. Shortly thereafter, Tate started at Cartwright Sow 22 as a part-time employee.


“It was actually the same farm that my step-dad worked at,” he recalled. “The hours were good, pay was competitive and overall, it was a nice place to work. It wasn’t long after being hired as a part-timer that I made the switch to a full-time employee.”

After two years of learning the ropes at Sow 22, Tate was promoted to department head at nearby Sow 21.

“At that time, my manager used to have us switch departments every six months, so it was really the best of both worlds,” he said. “It was nice because everyone on the farm was cross-trained and could help out wherever needed.”

After working at Sow 21 for four years, Tate went on to Sow 20 to work as farrowing department head for five years and then Sow 18 to manage farrowing for four years. Most farrowing department heads spend their days managing daily tasks, record keeping, training and instruction. Tate did all of that, and then some.

“Honestly, the four years I spent at Sow 18 were probably the most influential during my time at Iowa Select,” he said. “I worked alongside Philip Barncastle and he taught me how to manage a farm, do reports, wean projections, supply orders and more. Philip taught me the management portion of running an entire farm, not just a department.”

Finally, in 2013, Tate returned to Sow 22 as manager.

“It was really a full-circle moment,” he grinned. “To go from working on the farm part-time alongside my stepdad to now managing that exact same farm, just 14 years later, it was pretty cool. It shows that with hard work and consistency anything is possible.”

Tate jokes that it was just about the same time that he met his wife, Amber, that he was offered the manager role at Sow 22.

“It was probably Amber settling me down to the point where they thought I was finally responsible enough for a position like that,” he chuckled. “She’s always been very supportive of me and the company and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.”

Although his roles, responsibilities and work locations have changed over the years, the two things that haven’t changed are Tate’s passion for animal care and developing talent.

“When I see potential in someone, I leverage that as much as I can,” he said. “Whether it’s pushing them outside of their comfort zone, working alongside them for specific tasks or challenging them on certain things, it’s always because I know they are capable of great things.”

When he’s not a work, Tate enjoys spending time with Amber and their four kids—Kylie, Tyler, Natalie and Nolan. Whether they’re camping, fishing, hunting or boating, the family enjoys spending time together outdoors.

Unlike many small-town kid aspirations of making it to a big city someday, Tate’s dream was to downsize.

“After graduating from Creston High School I moved to Afton and that’s where Amber and I raise our kids today,” he said. “We love knowing everyone and providing our kids with a quality education and smaller class sizes. We wouldn’t change our small-town life for the world and I’m proud to work for an employer that provides so much for our community.”

Congratulations on 20 years, Tate! We appreciate all that you do for Iowa Select Farms.