Who are the Baers?
The Baer brothers are major players in a shrinking livestock sector in the Red River Valley region.
Amon, Amos, Joel and Jona are Nos. 10 to 13 of Allan and Edna Baer's 15 children. Allan moved to the area in 1960 and started farming with 20 dairy cows, flocks of 200 chickens and 200 ewes. In 1965 he built his first commercial egg layer barn.
When Allan retired in 1983, the operation included 320,000 laying hens, a feed mill, an 80,000-head pullet barn for raising eggs into laying hens, and a 400-sow farrow-to-finish hog operation.
By 1985, each of the four sons had bought out a portion of their father's farm. The first was Amon, who worked off the farm for a couple of years, married in 1973 and helped his father build a barn. Brothers Amos, Joel and Jona came along in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Baers operate a dozen farming or related entities in the region, either in egg, poultry or general farming, but are most often known for their egg business. Since the early 1980s, Amon has been on the UEP board. The UEP is a dues-paying organization, which is involved in political and policy work. Brother Amos is on the board of the American Egg Board, the check-off branch of the egg business, responsible for research and promotion.
Here is a list of the brothers and their businesses:
• Amon, 58: He and his wife, Camille, have five children. Their sons, Jareb, 33, and Caleb, 32, are in the farming business. They have Baer Bros. Inc., the surviving company of Amon's father. Amon and Jareb are in J&A Farms, which owns laying hens. They are in North Dakota Pigs Cooperative, of Larimore, N.D., a 5,000-head sow operation started in 1998 that serves members who finish pigs elsewhere. Jareb and Caleb are separately in the pig co-op with CJB LLC, including production at New Effington and Rosholt, S.D. They have Lake Park Custom Feeds, which grinds and mixes 900 tons of feed a week, primarily serving their own companies. Camille owns Mendelson Egg, a marketing company that formerly was based in Elbow Lake, Minn. It markets 6 million dozen eggs a year, 70 percent of which are in the shell market (sold in cartons for largely retail, wholesale and food service). About 30 percent go to Perham Egg, a breaking plant, which is owned by Amon's brothers.
• Amos, 57: He and his wife, Christel, have four children. They are joined in the ag businesses by son, Benedikt. Amos' family operates Baer Poultry Co., producing 700,000 pullets a year, which take birds from day-old to 18 weeks. Family members also own Baer Systems Inc., which builds beak-trimming equipment. They own Lake Country Pork LLC, which markets 7,000 finished hogs a year. They are members of Nelson County Pig Cooperative of Mapes, N.D., which has 5,000 head of sows. Animals are finished near Gwinner, N.D., for Baer Hogs LLP. Benedikt and cousin Calebin own Pit Masters, a custom manure application business, at Lake Park. They raise some hogs at New Effington and Rosholt in South Dakota, and at Gwinner, N.D.
• Joel, 55: He and his wife, JaDee, have five children. Their sons Isaac, 31, Ezra, 26, and Allan, 25, are in the business. Joel's family has 250,000 laying hens and an in-line feed mill. His family's Farmoor Valley Egg Co., is a marketing arm that processes and markets shell eggs. This is a 50-50 partnership with Jona, and produces 16 million dozen eggs a year. Isaac's JB Eggs has 120,000 additional laying hens. Joel is a part-owner with Jona in Perham Egg Co. (formerly Primera Foods), which they bought in 2009. The company processes about 30 million dozen per year and employs 38 people. Perham Egg also owns about 350,000 laying hens on contract with other producers. The family has some contract growers in Clear Lake, Minn., and Clear Lake, S.D., areas. Joel's JBS Hogs owns shares in Nelson County Pig Co-op, and markets 7,000 finished pigs a year. Youngest son, Allan, recently came to the farm after four years in the U.S. Marines, and, after two years in an apprentice program, will decide whether to join the farming company. Joel's farm has a feed mill that produces 350 tons of feed a week.
• Jona, 54: He and his wife, Alicia, have four children. Their sons, Ephriam, 27, Jeremiah, 26, and Nathaniel, 22, are in the farm. They have 440,000 laying hens in Jona Baer Inc. and own half of Farmoor Egg Co., processing 16 million dozen eggs per year. Ephriam owns shares in Nelson County Pigs Co-op, and markets 7,000 hogs a year. He works with a contract finisher in Foley, Minn., to finish some of the hogs. Ephriam owns Baer Construction, which builds farm buildings, including chicken buildings, but also residential houses for others. Jeremiah and Nathaniel farm 1,600 acres of corn and soybeans. Jeremiah owns Baer Spray Foam Insulation, which has some applications in chicken buildings.