Producer Spotlight: Ensuring The Farm for Future Generations

Marlyn Woelber wasn’t really sure if he would end up in the agriculture industry. His father farmed but it wasn’t a large enough operation to support two families. So, he went to college and then came back to the Boyden area and worked construction. However, opportunities that he never expected from his family and his local community came his way and cemented his career in agriculture. Those opportunities shaped Marlyn and his outlook on life. Marlyn knows he wouldn’t be where he is today without those who were willing to take a chance on him. He’s thankful and committed to giving back to his community and committed to keeping his way of life in the hands of someone local. 

Today, Marlyn and his wife, Gina, live on an acreage northwest of Boyden. They have two kids, Ellie and Blake. Gina is a teacher at Sheldon Middle School and their kids attend school at Boyden-Hull. Things on the acreage look much different today than they did back in 1995. 

In 1995, Marlyn was approached by a local farmer who offered him the chance to buy his acreage and land surrounding it. Marlyn was young and wouldn’t have been able to afford the land without an opportunity like this, so he jumped at it. The local farmer went to the same church as Marlyn and had seen his commitment to agriculture and livestock with his aunt and uncle’s farrow to finish swine operation. By this time, Marlyn had been helping his aunt and uncle for close to six years and wasn’t afraid of putting in the hard work and long hours. He was committed to making it work then and is still making it work today. 

Marlyn has close to 1,000 acres of crop production and 750 sows in his farrow to finish swine operation. He says, “Every year is different, and most years one of the operations pulls the other one through.” When you think about operating a full production farm, Marlyn has to be knowledgeable across multiple different segments in agriculture. That’s where Farmers Coop Society has really helped him over the years. Marlyn has really developed close friendships with the Boyden location’s staff. He knows he can depend on Bruce Heynen (FCS Swine Specialist) to help with anything livestock related, that Jesse Evans (FCS Agronomist) will help him find the right products for his crop operation, and his sister, Jodi Prostrollo (FCS Administrative Assistant) will be able to help with any questions on anything in-between. 

Being diversified is an essential portion of Marlyn’s business, but when you talk to him, you find out quickly what he’s passionate about: farrowing. His hog operation consists of 750 farrowing sows and he finishes around 14,000 hogs each year. His operation farrows about once a month, and that’s when he needs all hands on deck. Marlyn says that finding help is proving more and more difficult. Livestock and crop production are not traditional office hours. There’s always something to do, and it might need to be done in the evening or on the weekend. He currently has one full-time employee, Sarah, but says that he could always use more help. He knows that it takes the right person and hopes to one day be able to help someone the way other’s have helped him. 

Succession planning is a vital step of keeping our farms local. It also preserves the agriculture legacy. By planning ahead, you can help invest in the next generation, keep our local communities thriving, and protect your heritage.