MAPLE PARK — The Gerald and Nancy Hartmann family of Maple Park has been recognized as the Illinois Pork Producers Association family of the year.
The award recognizes a pork producer family that has done an outstanding job in promoting pork and that exemplifies leadership skills at the county, state and national levels.
The main farm houses 600 farrow-to-finish hogs, and they raise weaned pigs on a second farm. They own 270 sows in a sow center, where they get about 1,000 weaned pigs bimonthly. In total, they market about 20,000 hogs a year. They also farm 5,800 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat.
Gerald Hartmann started raising pigs on his father’s dairy farm when he was 12.
“I just thought hogs were a lot easier than dairy cows,” he said. “There was a little more flexibility there.”
He expanded the pork production after graduating from Iowa State University. He and Nancy raised hogs with the help of sons, Jeff and Doug, who joined the farm full time in 1985 after earning degrees in animal science.
“There was never any doubt I would return to the farm,” Jeff Hartmann said. “I remember riding on the tractor or in the combine when I was just 5 or 6 years old.”
Gerald Hartmann serves as a consultant and works on budgeting and taxes. Jeff Hartmann is responsible for transportation and maintenance and serves as crop specialist, while Doug Hartmann serves as the general manager of the farm. Their sister, Andrea Thurwanger, is the bookkeeper for the operation.
The three Hartmann children have six children among them.
“We can do each other’s jobs, it just has worked out that way,” Jeff Hartmann said of the division of labor between him and Doug. “We all help out where we’re needed.”
He said he and his siblings were fortunate their parents had planned and expanded the operation steadily, allowing them to continue in farming.
“We were able to expand not only the number of hogs we raised but also in acreage as neighbors retired,” Gerald Hartmann said.
Fourth-generation farmer Dan Hartmann, Doug’s son, joined the farm about four years ago after his 2010 graduation with a degree in agricultural studies. Like his father and grandfather, Dan Hartmann is an Iowa State grad. He is responsible for the wean-to-finish portion of the operation, as well as feed and nutrition.
This is all I’ve ever known,” Dan Hartmann said.
Along with their commitment to the pork industry and various pork producer organizations, the Hartmann family has been active in the DeKalb County Farm Bureau, FFA, 4-H, their church and more.
As members of commodity groups, the Hartmann family is able to share its farm story with a wider audience. They all take that role seriously, and Dan Hartmann said sometimes they have to choose their words carefully.
“You have to pay attention to your words and use terms people are familiar with so your words don’t get twisted,” Dan Hartmann said.