SPRINGFIELD/MOWEAQUA — Each year, the Illinois Pork Producers Association (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, IPPA proudly recognizes the Burgener family of Moweaqua 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 November 8th, 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 brothers all have different duties around the farm. Brad plants, harvests, orders crop inputs, and does general maintenance around the farm. Bret’s duties include managing wean-to-finish barns, barn maintenance, new construction projects, and ordering feed inputs. Chad oversees equipment maintenance, field cultivating and chiseling, along with hauling market hogs and feed ingredients. Chris manages the sow operation, buys sbm and germ, purchases medicines, and keeps sow records.
Other family members add to the success of the farm. Brad’s wife, Stacy, took over bookkeeping after Carole retired in 2011 and his daughter, Kelsey, came back to work on the farm full-time in April of 2020. She was responsible for farrowing but was also trying to build up her own photography business. Her hard work paid off and she currently runs a full-time photography business and helps on the farm one day each week.
Bret’s son, Brock, returned to the farm in June of 2021, and is responsible for farrowing. Nolan Boyer, Bret’s son-in-law, started working on the farm in April and oversees breeding.
The Burgeners all belong to the First Christian Church in Moweaqua and are members of the Shelby County Pork Producers. Burgener Pork Inc. has donated pork to the Central A&M Foundation, the Central A&M Art Club, numerous community raffles and benefits, and to their local pregnancy crisis center.
Brad and his wife, Stacy, have two children, Kayla and Kelsey. Kelsey worked for the Illinois Pork Producers Association as project coordinator for the Illinois Pork Expo from 2017-2020. Kayla is married to Troy Pinkston, and they have two children, Colt and Charlee. Both Brad and Stacy have served as the Shelby County Junior Fair treasurer, a position currently held by Stacy. Brad sits on the board of the Legacy Grain Co-Op and the Moweaqua Golf Course. In the past, Brad and Stacy have attended the Illinois Pork Expo and volunteered at The Pork Patio.
Bret and his wife, Angela, have three children: Abbey, Brock, and Alaina. Bret and all three children hold FFA State Farmer degrees. Following in their father’s footsteps, Abbey was the 2012 FFA Creed Speaker state winner and, in 2016, Brock won the state FFA Swine Placement award. Bret’s family has attended the World and Illinois Pork Expos and volunteered at the Pork Patio and the Birthing Center during the Illinois State Fair. In the past, Bret and Angela were past youth group leaders. Angela is the former Junior Women’s Club president and Bret formerly coached grade school basketball. They both volunteer in the nursery at First Christian Church and together they have three grandchildren: Avery Stults, Quinn Stults, and Banks Boyer.
Chad Burgener is married to Jonna, and they have one son, Ross. Jonna is a volunteer for the Women’s Ministry at First Christian Church, is township clerk, and serves on the soccer board.
Chris and Betsy Burgener have three sons: Ty, Griffin, and Cade. Betsy serves as an FFA Advisor and Ag teacher to the local 4-H and Chris is a baseball coach. Betsy, Ty, Griffin, and Cade have all volunteered at the local food pantry and handed out pork burgers for “Feed the Farmers”.
“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.”
IPPA is proud to award the Burgener family with the 2024 IL Pork Family of the Year title. They are utmost deserving of this designation.