By Emily Hanlin
Ag Communications Intern
Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau

WINNEBBAGO COUNTY – Brent Pollard, a dairy farmer in Rockford, has a lot to be proud of in his 35 years. Pollard’s great-grandfather started his family farm in the 1920s. Now, four generations later, it’s Pollard and his family, his wife Carrie and their young daughter, who are keeping the Pollard family tradition going.

Farming with his family has given Pollard the desire and passion for the business his family started. “I’m proud of the fact that I am farming the land my family started farming on years ago. I have learned to appreciate what I have because I know how hard my family has worked to start it.”

What started as a 148 acre farm with work horses, is now a farm that is home to between 80 and 90 dairy cows and 300 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and wheat. The diversity of a dairy and grain farm means that Pollard can put all of his resources to good use.

“I produce enough grain to feed my own cattle and sell any that’s left over. I will buy other feeds made from corn and soybeans like gluten feed, soybean meal, and distiller’s grains to feed my cattle also,” Pollard said.

Since Pollard starts chores at 5 a.m., his operation takes on a family feel. His 3-year-old daughter, Ainsley, is a big part of the day-to-day routine.

“She definitely isn’t afraid of the cows,” Pollard said. “She likes to tell the cows when to leave the barn and she really likes to play in the barn lime.”

When asked about his plans for his farm’s future, Pollard said “I hope that Ainsley has every opportunity to come back to the farm if that is what she wants to do.”

Pollard’s wife, Carrie, is also an active part of the family farm. She plays an equal role in morning milkings, feeds the calves, takes care of all of the health and vet work for their cattle, and helps with forage harvest.

Having a family-oriented operation is important to Pollard. His family farm’s motto is, “If we take care of our cows, they will take care of our family.”

Pollard’s farm is proving that it can take care of his family because Brent and Carrie are the 2015 recipients of the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Achievement Award. According to the IL Farm Bureau, The Young Leader Achievement Award Program is a competitive event focusing your farm operation and growth, the financial progress of your operation, plus your Farm Bureau and community leadership.

The Pollard family stood out above the rest for several reasons.

“We had a unique farm story,” said Pollard.

The Pollard farm is located in an urban area. Before Pollard had decided to come back to the farm after college, his parents were worried about commercial development. Therefore, they did not make many strides to modernize the farm. Once Pollard made the choice to come back home, decisions were made to update the farm.

“Since my parents did not put much extra capital into the farm because of questions about what the future would hold, when I took over, Carrie and I had a lot to do to make the farm competitive and profitable,” said Pollard.

The couple put up a new building to make the cows more comfortable and invested in equipment that would make harvesting corn and alfalfa easier. Besides the operation growth and financial aspects of this award, it also highlights Farm Bureau involvement and community leadership. This is the area where Brent and Carrie Pollard really had the upper hand.

“I have always been involved in agriculture related activities. I have been the Farm Bureau District Young Leader Representative, served as the Farm Bureau State Young Leader Chair, as well as served on the State and County Farm Bureau Board of Directors,” said Pollard.

Carrie has also been very active in different organizations including Farm Bureau Young Leaders and the Illinois Pork Producers Board of Directors.

The time and effort both have invested into the Farm Bureau and the future of agriculture has been acknowledged through this award.

“We were very happy when we found out. We knew how much work goes into the award. It is a very thorough application. It’s not often that you are recognized for the growth and improvement of your farm, but this award does this,” exclaimed Pollard.

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