Family of the Year

Each year the Illinois Pork Producers Association recognizes a pig farming Family of the Year.

To nominate a family for the 2022 award, please do so by November 8th by emailing jennifer@ilpork.com.

 

2021 Illinois Pork Producer Family of the Year:

Brazinski Family from Coulterville, IL

 

 

Receiving the 2021 IPPA Family of the Year award is the Brazinski Pork Farm, located in Coulterville. This family farm produces 34,000 market hogs per year, in addition to a row crop farming operation that includes corn, soybeans, and wheat. Their family is led by Jim Brazinski, who is president of pig production companies Grand View Farm and Grand Tower Farm, a service agency Corn Silk LLC, and owns Brazinski Pork Farm.

 

The family history of both Jim’s parents is rich in the farming tradition. While the maternal side in the U.S. dates back to the 1850’s, Jim’s paternal grandfather, who fled from Lithuania in 1904 due to political tensions, set up his farm in the current Coulterville location in the 1920’s. Fast-forward two generations, and life for grandfather’s family in Lithuania became difficult when the Russians invaded Lithuania in the 1940’s, seized their farm, and exiled the family to Siberia.

 

Here in America, life was good. Since both of Jim’s parents had grown up on farms and caring for various animals, it was only natural to consider raising animals as the children grew older. The Brazinski family’s love of pigs started with Jim’s brother, Frank, who started raising hogs for a 4-H project in 1966. In 1984, Jim graduated from SIU Carbondale and started constructing more hog buildings on their family farm. At that time, to keep costs down, they built their own hog buildings – everything from pouring concrete slats to building feeders to designing and making curtain openers. Anything they thought they could build, they tried, including manure pumps. They still build a lot of equipment in their shop today.

 

On a herd visit in 2006, Dr. Bill Hollis, a veterinarian with Carthage Veterinary Service, suggested that the Brazinski Family join a sow farm to improve the consistency of their pig flows and to be able to raise larger groups of pigs all the same age. That eliminated the sows from their farm and improved the health and efficiency of the growing hogs. The Brazinski family farm is still following that structure today.

 

Family is a huge part of the Brazinski’s core values. This is evident in the care Jim and his family put into making sure his mother is been taken care of. Jim’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 13 years ago. Jim and his siblings (3 brothers, 2 sisters) were determined to care for their mother in the house in which she raised them. After several failed attempts to use caregiving agencies, they decided to form a small LLC and hire their own caregivers, with the notion that care needed to be compassionate, reliable, and the best possible for their Mom. It was named Corn Silk, since they had an agricultural upbringing. Their mother is in an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s now, but she continues to teach them each about themselves. They feel very fortunate to have 2 caregivers that provide exceptional care for both their Mom and Dad.

 

Jim hopes that Brazinski Pork Farm will continue to grow in coming years. Currently they have six full-time and two part-time employees. They are the most essential element to the farm’s success. Additionally, there are four farms that contract finish hogs for the Brazinskis. These contract farms previously raised hogs of their own and continue to raise these hogs as if they were their own. The Brazinski family continues to strive to produce the best pork possible with care starting at the sow farm. Jim is an avid volunteer, a 13-year member of the Marissa School Board and is proud to be a member of St. Anthony’s Lively Grove Catholic Church.

 

In Jim’s words, “Whenever we face uncertain or extremely difficult times, I remind myself of the struggles of my relatives. They were forced from their homes and lost their farms to work in labor camps in extreme conditions. When given the opportunity, they started again, survived and eventually thrived once Lithuania regained its independence.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previous Illinois Pork Producer Family of the Year Award Winners:

1989 Carl (Mary Lou) Behme Carlinville
1990 Erval (Betty) Borgic Nokomis
1991 Wayne A (Marlene) Maschhoff Carlyle
1992 Hilding (Joann) Allen Princeton
1993 Barb (late Art) Drach Saunemin
1994 Mark (Sherly) VonHolten Lyndon
1994 Norm (Sue) VonHolten Sheffield
1995 Donald (Saundra) Huftalin Malta
1996 David (Linda) Duncan Mendon
1997 Paul (Judith) McClure Newton
1998 Craig (Marilyn) Janssen Lyndon
1999 Don (Lenora) Peter Quincy
2000 Wilbur (Alice) Paulus Lincoln
2001 George (Ruth) Brauer Oakford
2002 Wayne (Garnet) Schlueter Rock City
2003 Russell (Mary) Jeckel Delavan
2004 Richard (Venita) Baker Liberty
2005 Rick (Barb) Dean LeRoy
2006 Jim Scheetz Family Niota
2007 Roy (Fran) Weitekamp Family Raymond
2008 John (Jan) Kellogg Family Yorkville
2009 Nelson Family Farm Lynn Center
2010 Keller Grain & Livestock Willow Hill
2011 Gary (Marietta) Dunkirk Family Morrisonville
2012 Scholl Family Farms Polo
2013 Haag Family Farm Emington
2014 Gerald (Nancy) Hartmann Family Farm Maple Park
2015 Eldon Gould Family Farm Maple Park
2016 Dave Conrady Family Farm Elkhart
2017 Curt Zehr Family Farm

Washington

2018 Phillip Bradshaw Family

Griggsville

2019 Lehmann Bros Farm

Strawn

2020 Cowser Family Bradford