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Farmers for the Future: Working the plan

Agriculture.com Staff 11/05/2008 @ 11:17am

Trapped in the crosstown traffic of Denver one decade ago, Greg McClure was acutely aware he was a long way from home.

Not the suburban home where he lived with his wife, Amy, and their three young children. But his home farm 1,000 miles away in Lawrence County, Illinois.

Married in 1984, the McClures spent the first 13 years living and working in Denver. Greg, a double major in business administration and computer science, was a project manager at Lockheed Martin.

In 1997, as their children started school, they began to reevaluate their lives and jobs. They felt the timing was right to move back to the family farm near St. Francisville.

"In the corporate world, we worked to provide for our family," Greg says. "But our passion was to work with family to create a future."

Greg's dad, Sidney, had assumed operation of the farm in 1967, after the death of his father, Kyle, who had bought the farm in 1953.

"Dad was more than happy to have his grandchildren nearby," Greg says. "His biggest concern was how we'd make ends meet with both families living off an 800-acre grain farm."

Greg began applying strategies he learned working for a corporation. "We spent six months developing a business plan prior to our move from Denver," he says. "We knew it wasn't possible to expand the grain operation fast enough to create a family living. I'd raised a few hogs in high school. And after we researched the idea, we found contract hog production to be the best answer for us."

The contracts were in place, and construction of two 2,400-head wean-to-finish barns was under way in 1997 prior to their move.

"The strength of a wean-to-finish hog production contract was helping reduce our financial risk during this expansion," Greg says. "It also provided a fixed income to help offset the financial risks of grain farming."

In 2003, Greg added a 3,600-head barn, boosting production to 16,800 hogs per year.

Trapped in the crosstown traffic of Denver one decade ago, Greg McClure was acutely aware he was a long way from home.

Sidney is involved in the crop production, and he and Greg, 45, share equipment and labor. Together, the McClures have doubled land base in the past decade to about 2,000 acres.

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