Mark Schleisman, 58, of M&M Farms, finishes 30,000 pigs annually in Calhoun County. A third-generation farmer, Schleisman farms 5,000 acres of corn, soybeans, and popcorn seed in addition to having a 320-head, cow-calf operation and a 720-head cattle feedlot.
Schleisman’s work with pigs began at the early age of 10 when his father would give him a runt to raise on his own. After a while, he owned a couple sows, the first of which he affectionately named “Beth” after his sister. He eventually studied at Iowa State University in Ames and left the farm for a few years. Prior to returning to the farm, Schleisman worked as an agronomist in western Nebraska where he began his involvement with the popcorn business, managing production for Conagra.
Schleisman came back to pig farming 12 years ago when his son and son-in-law indicated a desire to return to farming, as well. He bought out his father and uncles’ swine operation and began feeding for AMVC out of Audubon. Today, M&M Farms sources their pigs out of a sow farm in Colorado and markets them to Smithfield.
Schleisman and his wife Melissa have seven children, many of whom are still involved in the farming operation today. Brandy, their oldest, manages the financial records while her husband Colby works for Schleisman. Matthew and Landon, two of Schleisman’s sons, help on the farm, as well. They have two hired helpers, Collin Miller and Jason Schultz, also working on the farm. The couple’s other children include Luke (deceased), Cassie, Blaire, and Kylie. They also have four grandchildren.
Land stewardship is a major part of the operation. Schleisman has implemented various practices over the years to help preserve the acres and water that he does own. Beginning with cover crops, Schleisman has integrated solar panels, a wind turbine, filter strips, and bioreactors. Among other things, they capture water from a county tile and irrigate their fields with the water to reduce the amount of nitrogen entering the Raccoon River.
Schleisman is a member of the Calhoun County Pork Producers, which restarted a few years ago. “It’s been great because I see younger people being involved in that and being proud of their operations,” he says. Schleisman was also a participant in the 2022 Pork Leadership Institute through the National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council.