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Protecting a Legacy

September 13, 2019

Risk management means more than protecting a farm’s bottom line. 

For producer John Hejlik, protecting his family’s legacy and ensuring the long-term health of his animals are the main reasons to mitigate risk. 

“This farm has always meant a lot to my family,” Hejlik said. “My grandfather bought the farm, then my father ran it and I purchased it from him.” 

Hejlik and his wife, Becky, operate Eagle Estates Inc. in Britt, Iowa. What began as a couple hundred acres of farmland and a few animals grew into a 600-acre farm and a farrow-to-finish operation that currently houses 1,800 sows.

Hejlik continues to build on what his family began three generations ago, making improvements to the business by using Cargill’s Provimi products, and production services to ensure optimal animal health and well-being. But outside risks – such as viruses and diseases – threaten farmers’ control and create an unpredictable environment as they try to improve their operations. 

Eagle Estates faced its own epidemic in 2013, putting the operation and its legacy at risk. Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), which rapidly decreases health and productivity of adult hogs and can kill newborn piglets within five days, swept through the barns, infecting nearly all the sows and causing rapid dehydration. 

The onset of PEDV required immediate action, so Hejlik reached out to his Cargill sow specialist to find out how to best rid the barns of the disease and implement stricter biosecurity measures to keep it away in the future. 

Cargill worked side by side with Hejlik to help reduce the impact PEDV could’ve had on his farm.

“We got through [the virus] in three weeks, whereas some farms were taking six to eight weeks to overcome [PEDV],” Hejlik said. The quick turnaround also helped Hejlik take advantage of competitive market prices because of the shortage in the industry due to the widespread effects of the virus.

Agriculture is an industry that faces perpetual risks. Like Hejlik, the modern farmer puts a plan in place to not only mitigate that risk, but also protect the farm family for generations to come.

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