Family of the Year
Each year the Illinois Pork Producers Association recognizes a pig farming Family of the Year:
The 2021 Illinois Pork Producer Family of the Year is the
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.”
To nominate a family for the 2022 award, please do so by November 1st by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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||
|2018||Phillip Bradshaw Family||
|2019||Lehmann Bros Farm||