Walsh to lead Illinois Pork Producers Association

2024 Retiring IPPA directors, IPPA Family of the Year and IL Pork Ambassador announced at annual meeting.

February 1, 2024

7 Min Read
The Burgener family of Moweaqua was honored as the 2024 IPPA Family of the Year.IPPA

During the 2024 Illinois Pork Producers Association annual meeting, Cheryl Walsh, from Princeville, Illinois was announced as the 2024 IPPA President.

Walsh is a fourth-generation producer from Peoria County. She owns and operates Cowser Inc., which includes a sow farm, hay and a cow-calf operation. All the weaned pigs from the farm are sold directly to customers. She is also an owner/operator of a sister company, Cowser Field & Feedlot, which grows corn and soybeans and helps produce some of the products that are fed to the sows. 

Walsh is actively involved with the Peoria County Farm Bureau, serves as township director, is on several local committees, and loves being involved in Ag in the Classroom, where she is affectionately known as “The Peoria County Pig Lady”.

This begins Walsh's second term as an at large director on the IPPA board, where she most recently chaired the marketing committee. She says that there have been many benefits to serving on the IPPA board. In her role, she has been able to connect with legislators, educators and industry professionals and has enjoyed getting to know her senators and representatives on a state and national level. She takes pride in being a voice for all producers. 

IPPA delegates also voted on the following officer team for the 2024 year:

  • Vice President/Treasurer: Josh Maschhoff, Nashville

  • Secretary: Katie Brown, Morrisonville

Four retiring IPPA directors

During the annual meeting the delegate body also acknowledged four retiring directors. IPPA members serve on the board to discuss the promotion of pork products and meeting the needs of pig farmers across the state.

Jill Brokaw- Years of Service: 2021-2023

Jill Brokaw is a third-generation pig farmer and grew up on her family farm in Joy, Illinois. Over the years she has had many industry experiences, including working with her family's farrow to finish swine operation, management of their feeding and nutrition system and feed mill, as well as row crop farming. She is currently co-owner of Biddle Gilts, LLC. with her father, continuing their decades of partnership with PIC genetics in the sale of female breeding stock throughout the Midwest. 

This year, Brokaw stepped into a role with the National Pork Board in producer outreach and sustainability coordination for the states of Illinois and Missouri. Through this role she works closely with the state associations to provide assistance and support for local swine producers while focusing on foreign animal disease preparedness, on farm sustainability reporting, and Climate Smart Grant applications. 

Pam Janssen- Years of Service: 2010-2023 

Pam Janssen’s family has a 300 head farrow-to-finish pig farm in Woodford County. They are sixth generation farmers. The farm has 200 head of feeder calves and 1,200 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. Their farm was established in 1874 and has been recognized as a centennial farm.

If she could give advice to someone looking to expand into livestock production, it would be to make sure to learn all the rules and regulations first and then simply enjoy what you do. Janssen has enjoyed her time on the IPPA board and looks forward to spending more time with her family.

Blane Olson- Years of Service: 2018-2023

Blane Olson is the third generation farmer to own and operate their family’s diverse grain and livestock operation in Logan County. He operates a purebred Duroc show pig and breeding stock operation and, most recently, has added a wean-to-market partnership with The Maschhoffs.

The Olson family has raised Purebred hogs for over 50 years. This foundation and passion for raising livestock has been in their family for three generations and helped develop their interest in expanding into the commercial industry. He and his family grow corn and soybeans on the grain side. Olson also judges swine shows at the local, state and national level.

Jason Propst- Years of Service: 2011-2023

Jason Propst is from Cumberland County and wears many hats in the pork industry. He has a small feeder-to-finish operation, helps a contract finisher, and is a swine enterprise specialist for FS Total Livestock Services.  

Propst states that being a part of IPPA has helped him better understand the issues the pork industry faces and how they affect operations differently. Furthermore, he has made friends throughout the industry that wouldn’t have been possible without his involvement in IPPA.

IPPA Family of the Year

Each year, IPPA honors a pork producing family who has contributed to the long-term success of the industry through leadership and pork promotion on the local and state levels. In 2024, the Burgener family of Moweaqua was honored as the IPPA Family of the Year.

Charles and Carole Burgener moved to Moweaqua, Illinois, in 1968 to a farm that Carole’s grandparents owned, and started farming 500 acres of corn, soybeans, cattle and hogs. In the beginning, they purchased feeder pigs at the sale barn and would finish out groups of pigs in open lots. After a few years, Charles had a group of pigs that contracted scour from infected pigs in the sale barn, which caused him to decide to raise his own hogs.

In 1976, the Burgeners put up a gestation barn and farrowed sows in wooden farrowing pens. Two years later, they built a 35 X 210-foot barn that contained 24 farrowing crates, a nursery and the grower and finisher they still use today. 

The Burgeners had four sons, Brad, Bret, Chad, and Chris, who all returned to the farm after college. As a result, the hog and farming operation began to grow.

Brad Burgener came back to the farm when he graduated high school in 1983 and offered Charles some much-needed help.

In 1987, Bret Burgener won the state FFA Swine Production award. He attended Illinois State University and received a degree in Ag Production in 1991. A few years after he graduated, he also returned home and the Burgener’s sow production doubled. With the extra help, they were now able to finish out all their pigs.

In 1994, after completing his degree in Ag Production at Illinois State University, son Chad Burgener, came back to the farm. Soon after that, the Burgener family bought a semi and trailers to haul their own hogs to the market and to pick up feed ingredients. Three years later, Chris Burgener followed in his brother’s footsteps, earned his Ag Production degree at Lincoln Land Community College, and began working on the farm. With all their sons at home, the operation increased from about 400 sows to 600 sows, all finished at the farm.

On Nov. 8, 1999, at the age of 55, Charles Burgener passed away while out feeding silage to the cattle. Wanting to concentrate solely on farming and raising hogs, the Burgeners sold all their cattle and in 2015 they added another 200 sows to their operation. They now farm 3,000 acres and maintain 800 sows at their farrow-to-finish operation, Burgener Pork Inc.

“The Burgener family truly embodies the term “family farm” and is well-deserving of this recognition,” says Jason Propst, who nominated the Burgeners for this award. “They make the farm a place everyone wants to be, while making it possible for the younger generation to return and succeed. Furthermore, the Burgener family strives to improve the quality of life in their community and are the neighbors we all wish to have.”

Matli named 2024 Illinois Pork Ambassador

Each year IPPA awards a summer internship. JoBeth Matli has been selected as the 2024 IL Pork Ambassador. 

Matli is from Raymond, Illinois and is a freshman at Lincoln Land Community College pursuing a degree in Agribusiness.

She has worked for Borgic sow farm in Nokomis, Illinois, since she was 14 years old. During that time, Matli has learned to work as a midwife, administer day-one shots, and provide daily care to the sows and piglets. She has participated in some of the IPPA annual meetings and attended the Illinois Livestock Leadership Institute.

“I can't wait to start my new journey with the Illinois Pork Producers as your 2024 Illinois State Pork Ambassador”, says Matli. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I look forward to meeting many of our members while continuing to promote safe and healthy pork.”

Matli will hold the title of ambassador through the 2025 IL Pork Expo and will intern in the IPPA office this coming summer. She will travel throughout the state presenting at Summer Agriculture Institutes and will manage the Birthing Center at the Illinois State Fair.

 “IPPA is excited about the experience and enthusiasm JoBeth brings to this position,” says Lana Shovlin, communications director for IPPA. “We look forward to welcoming her to #TeamPork and sharing experiences in the pork industry.” 

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