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Producing Excellence

Clare Schilling

New Athens, IL

CD Bell

Products: Hogs

Size of Operation: 190,000+ head annually

In Business Since: 2008

Farm Credit Partner: Farm Credit Illinois

Learn more about Clare Schilling on YouTube

If you want to find the boss in the Schillings’ state-of-the-art 8,000-sow hog facility near New Athens, Illinois, keep your eye open for an energetic 33-year-old mother of two with a University of Illinois consumer and textile marketing degree who is speaking Spanish to the employees she manages.

While husband, Kyle Row, commutes 35 miles each way to St. Louis for his off-farm job, Clare Schilling drives two miles to her family’s breed-to-wean pork farm, CD Bell, which weaned more than 130,000 pigs last year.

At the hog farm, Clare is responsible for hiring and training employees and supervising a team of 30 employees to manage the daily operation. She also provides leadership in developing extensive bio-security protocols for the farm to reduce exposures to viruses like PED and PRRS, which have cost the pork industry significantly, and manages the relationships with the operation’s external team of consultants, vendors and buyers.

As an effective manager and leader, Clare is integral to the operation’s success. Since many of her employees are Spanish speakers, she decided to learn to speak their language and learn about their culture.

“It’s made things so much easier because now I can explain why and how I want something done,” Clare says. “It’s also increased the employees’ respect for me as a manager. My employee turnover rate has decreased significantly, and we are retaining the best employees – which is vital to running a successful business.”

With two small children and the 24/7 demands of a livestock operation, time management and finding work-life balance are challenges that Clare shares with many women in agriculture. She credits her family for much of her success – citing her grandmother, parents, siblings and husband as providing role models, teaching and ongoing support.

Despite the challenges, Clare believes it’s worth it. “Ag is a great industry to be part of with so many career options available. But it’s very important that you have a strong work ethic. And it’s imperative to keep learning and keep up with fast-changing technology.”

Providing essential financing to support CD Bell is Farm Credit Illinois, which Clare points to as being accommodating to young farmers and knowledgeable about agriculture and farming cycles: “In 2008 right after we started the sow farm, the market crashed. When the price hit extreme lows, our contract was not upheld and we were left in a very vulnerable position. That’s when Farm Credit came in with an adjusted plan to help us get through the tough times."

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