Family of the Year

Each year the Illinois Pork Producers Association recognizes a pig farming Family of the Year. 

The 2017 Illinois Pork Producer Family of the Year is the Zehr Family from Washington, Illinois.

Curt and his family are the proud owners of Zehr Farms. Curt currently farms 1,700 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat and operates a 140-sow farrow-to-finish farm, specializing in Durocs.


The Zehr Family has been an integral part of agriculture and, specifically pork production, in Tazewell County for many years. His interest in the pork industry started at an early age, influenced by his parents Dean and Kathy Zehr, who attended many local and state association events over the years. Dean was also active in the Illinois State Duroc Association and served as president.  


Curt later kept the family tradition going and became actively involved at the county level serving as a director and officer of the Tazewell County Pork Producers, including President and served as the county 4H Fair Swine Superintendent from 1985-2014.  


The deep determination and strength of this 5th generation farm family was evident in the aftermath of their home being destroyed by a tornado in November 2013.  After hundreds of people from across the state came to help clean up debris, Curt concentrated on keeping the farm running and Sue went to work planning and guiding the rebuilding of their home, resulting in the move back into a new house 11 months to the day after the devastation occurred.   


Curt and his wife, Sue, have three grown children, twin daughters, Angie and Beth, and a son, Michael. They also have five grandchildren.  Growing up, all the children showed hogs at the Illinois State Fair and traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to show at the North American International Livestock Expo. The legacy of showing pigs in the Zehr family goes back to the 1940’s. 


Like many good pork producing families, the Zehr Family has always been active in promoting pork and the pork industry. Zehr Farms has participated in the IPPA Pork and Pigskins Program the last several years at Washington High School Football games. They have also participated every year in the Illinois Pork Power program providing hogs to be used for ground pork donations at local food pantries in the area.


Over the years, the Zehr Family has strived to adapt to changes and grow their business, while being good stewards of the land, caring for their animals, being active members of their community and attending Metamora Mennonite Church. They have accomplished this by working closely together as a family and remaining true to their faith in God. 


The Zehr Family. 


Previous Illinois Pork Producer Family of the Year Award Winners:

1989 Carl (Mary Lou) Behme Carlinville
1990 Erval (Betty) Borgic Nokomis
1991 Wayne A (Marlene) Maschhoff Carlyle
1992 Hilding (Joann) Allen Princeton
1993 Barb (late Art) Drach Saunemin
1994 Mark (Sherly) VonHolten  Lyndon
1994 Norm (Sue) VonHolten Sheffield
1995 Donald (Saundra) Huftalin Malta
1996 David (Linda) Duncan Mendon
1997 Paul (Judith) McClure Newton
1998 Craig (Marilyn Janssen  Lyndon
1999 Don (Lenora) Peter Quincy
2000 Wilbur (Alice) Paulus  Lincoln
2001 George (Ruth) Brauer Oakford
2002 Wayne (Garnet) Schlueter Rock City
2003 Russell (Mary) Jeckel Delavan
2004 Richard (Venita) Baker Liberty
2005 Rick (Barb) Dean LeRoy
2006 Jim Scheetz Family  Niota
2007 Roy (Fran) Weitekamp Family  Raymond
2008 John (Jan) Kellogg Family Yorkville
2009 Nelson Family Farm  Lynn Center
2010 Keller Grain & Livestock Willow Hill
2011 Gary (Marietta) Dunkirk Family Morrisonville
2012 Scholl Family Farms Polo
2013 Haag Family Farm  Emington
2014 Gerald (Nancy) Hartmann Family Farm  Maple Park
2015 Eldon Gould Family Farm  Maple Park
2016 Dave Conrady Family Farm  Elkhart 
2017 Curt Zehr Family Farm  Washington