“In my opinion, there’s no better way to raise your family. I’m proud of that we do at every step,” Eric Oolman.
October is Pork Month, FCS has the privilege of serving many excellent pork producers, among these producers are Eric and Jessica Oolman. The pork industry plays a vital role in the agricultural communities of Northwest Iowa and Southeast South Dakota. “The pork industry is special in this area because we have all of the resources here, we have buyers and the slaughterhouses, we have corn, that feeds the pigs, who then fertilize the ground for the corn,” (Eric). Through this Farmers Coop Society has developed methods to support farmers at every stage of the process, the Oolmans have gotten to experience this firsthand.
Eric and Jessica’s operation is made up of hogs, cattle, row crops, and an on-site feed mill. The Oolmans have two sons who are both active on the farm. A pillar of Eric and Jessica’s operation is striving to be innovative throughout their entire operation. This can be seen through their unique methods including grinding their own feed on sight. The provides advantages such as being able to utilize their own corn as well as, “If there is a mistake with timing of pigs, we’re able to grind our own feed and correct the error,” Eric.
No one farms alone, this is an ideal shared by both Eric and Jessica. “Get connected with the coop or someone else with their foot in the door,” Jessica. It’s important to get connected with experts that you can trust, and the coop, FCS, is an excellent place to start. When asked to share any advice they had for anyone just beginning their journey as a farmer they encouraged them to create a network around them. “You lean on other producers too, you try to create a network with other producers trying to figure it out together,” Eric. Learning from others and creating a network is an excellent way to push your operation forward, but it is important to remember that every operation is different. “Do what’s best for you, not for your neighbor or someone else. You can listen and learn from what works for someone else, but don’t compare yourself because your farm is different from the next one,” Jessica.
The next lesson that the Oolmans emphasized was to value the experiences you have throughout your life. You never know what the future holds or how your experiences will help you. “There’s a lot of times in life that you’re not even aware of, but you’re learning what you need to know for the future,” Eric. Eric shared how his dad worked in a feed mill for several years, giving him the know how to build and run their one-site feed mill. He was then able to teach Eric how to run the feed mill, a skill that will continue to be passed along through the generations. This allows them to operate and fulfill their own needs. It’s important to learn from everything you do and find ways to apply that knowledge in the future.
Finally, Eric and Jessica spent time addressing the importance of innovation, “85% of the things you try will fail, but the ones that work will make it worth it,” Eric. Innovation is vital to any successful operation, but it is important to remain strategic when implementing new practices and technology. Some things they suggested considering is whether or not the technology will improve ROI or save time. There’s always a cost to adding technology, and you can’t make decisions based on what your neighbor is doing, you have to make a decision based on the benefits to your operation. When it comes in adding innovation the Oolmans understand the significance of staying up to date while remaining profitable.
Pork producers are vital members of our community, and we are honored to have the opportunity to support these individuals. FCS is proud to be at the center of a pork producer’s network, and proud to be able to share stories of these individuals such as Eric and Jessica Oolman. Thank you for sharing your story with us and Happy Pork Month!