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CCFB News» June 2019

Farming for Future Generations

06/04/2019 @ 1:20 pm

As a fourth-generation family farmer Gerry Kopping has always wanted to farm.  He grew up pulling weeds and riding on tractors with his grandfather.  As a young man, he raised corn, hay and livestock. 

 

While he was studying to teach agriculture to high school students, Kopping worked at Ludwig’s Feed Store in Lemont.  While at work he talked with customers who owned horses and were concerned about urban sprawl and the effect it was having on farms and horse boarding facilities.  Shortly after those conversations, Kopping approached his parents about transitioning space in their barn to horse stalls.  What started with five horses and forty acres of crop land is now a hundred horses and five hundred acres of crop land.

 

One of Kopping’s first boarding clients was Linda who has now been his wife and business partner for over 26 years.  The Koppings have three adult children and built their horse boarding business together.  They now grow hay, corn, soybeans; raise beef cattle, bees, chickens; and house horses, ponies, mules, donkeys and alpacas in Cook and Will counties. 

 

As a livestock farmer, Kopping’s animals’ health and well-being is his most important priority.  He provides his animals and the animals entrusted in his care with proper care and treats them humanely.  Animal care doesn’t end when the weather gets cold or too rainy.  Kopping relies on experts to help him make decisions about proper animal health, treatment, and care.  He also attends classes and programs offered by the Farm Bureau and the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois to learn better practices for livestock care.

 

Like many family farmers, Kopping’s goal is to ensure that his farm remains viable for future generations.  Through education programs offered by the University of Illinois Extension, Farm Bureau, and other organizations he’s learned new and enhanced existing crop management practices. 

 

Kopping utilizes livestock manure as a natural fertilizer after consulting with an agronomist, an expert in soil nutrition to determine how much to apply.  Special care is taken to ensure that the fertilizer is utilized by the crop rather washed into any nearby streams.  Kopping also uses grass buffer strips along waterways to help filter and prevent fertilizers from reaching the stream.  If additional fertilizers are needed Kopping consults with an agronomist before applying any products.  Farmers, like Kopping can use a licensed and trained applicator to apply any fertilizers or can apply it themselves if they’re licensed and trained to.  To be licensed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture to apply crop protectants, Kopping underwent extensive training and testing and he must retest regularly.

 

Kopping is a father and a farmer and he’s confident that the food he grows is safe to eat for his family and yours.