Face of a Farmer
12 Year Chicken Farmer
Growing up, Eric spent much of his youth on his Grandparents farm, mowing fields, growing their own food, picking vegetables from the garden, and learning to love the land. This led Eric to return to his family roots and begin farming with his family in 2000. In the beginning, Eric and his wife would work together on the farm, Eric’s father helped with repairs and upgrades, and his Mother would watch the little ones and feed the family. 5 years later, Eric left his semiconductor job to work in agriculture and farming full time with his family.
Raising live animals is not easy - if the alarm goes off at 3 am, he is the one who goes out to check on the birds. Eric is up early checking on them and goes to bed late after the final check of the day. While farming is difficult work, Eric takes pride in the fact that his farm, his business, and his family are part of a community. Eric respects what others do to contribute to the community, and hopes they respect what he does in return. He is proud that he’s part of an agricultural business that provides much needed lean protein to feed the Pacific Northwest at a price that is reasonable for working families. While they work 24/7, the rural lifestyle Eric and his family cherish allows them to meet and talk with people from all walks of life.
Farming since 1995
Randy grew up on a small farm in Pleasant Hill, Oregon. As a boy, he helped take care of his family’s cows, a small apple orchard, and a large garden in addition to picking beans and working in the hay fields during the summers. Throughout his high school summers, he worked doing clean up and odd jobs at Saginaw, a local mill. After graduating high school, Randy married his high school sweetheart and served in the Army. He was stationed in Korea during the 1988 Olympics, going on to complete his service at Fort Hood, Texas. Randy was called back to active duty service during Desert Storm, going to Germany before returning home.
In 1995, Randy and his family bought their first farm, fixing up two of the oldest poultry barns in the state at that time. Randy and his wife worked full time and in 1999, an opportunity to purchase a slightly bigger farm arose and they then moved the family to Linn County. While raising their four children, coaching sports and purchasing farming supplies through locally owned businesses, they continued to expand their business locally.
They have seen a lot of changes in the last twenty seven years of farming, from technology that makes farming easier, to legislation that makes it more difficult to stay in farming and support the community in which they live. But at the end of the day, they know they can raise good, healthy poultry that is in the market just days after it leaves the farm. Even though it’s a 24/7 job, they are proud to see their locally grown and healthy source of food supplying this community and the Pacific Northwest.
James grew up on a family farm in Lynden Washington . As a young boy, he milked cows, bucked bales, collected eggs, worked in the barns looked after the farm animals.
As he got older, he discovered a love of music, formed a band, and made a living performing, from Hawaii to Atlantic City to Las Vegas. James met his wife while in Vancouver B.C., and they decided to return to farming, using the money he earned through his music to buy an egg farm in Bellingham Washington . James eventually switched to growing organic broiler chickens, and has been raising poultry for over 38 years.
Over the years, James has seen many changes in farming. More and more families are leaving farming and family farms that did succeed have had to grow to survive. James also sees young people struggling to break into agriculture, with high property costs and more and more legislation keeping young families out.
After 38 years James still loves farming. When his birds are on the farm the work days can be long and he is on call 24-7 but living in wide open spaces and being his own boss make it all worth it. He still finds time playing music but nowadays only for fun and doing benefits and charities around the county
Chris and Megan Cozart
18 Years in Agriculture
Chris and Megan Cozart both grew up around farming. Megan lived in the country, raised livestock, and participated in 4H and Future Farmers of America. Chris grew up on a cotton and alfalfa farm in California before he and his family moved to Oregon when he was 4 years old, where they worked in draft horse logging, and raised sheep and horses. Later Chris went into grass seed farming. Chris and Megan married in 2002 and started raising poultry in 2004 when Chris took a job with Mark Firestone, the original owner of Marcon Farms. In 2018, Chris and Megan became the new owners of Marcon Farms, raising poultry with the help of their three boys.
Chris and Megan have seen a lot of changes in their 18 years of poultry growing. Advances in new technology have made it easier to raise the birds humanely, with better nutrition and better living conditions. But the Cozarts see technologies like social media as a blessing and a curse; creating transparency which is good for the industry, but creating a lot of misinformation at the same time. Increasing legislation and requirements make it harder for farmers to be successful, so that many are leaving the industry altogether.
Chris and Megan love what they do. Even though it’s a 24-7 job, they get to be their own bosses and raise healthy poultry to feed their community and their state. Cozarts believe that regardless of the size of the farm, they’re still run by families, and the ties they’ve built with those families is what matters to them.
Farming since Grade School
Salvador Rios was born on a farm in the Mexican state of Nayarit, in a small town just east of the Bay of Banderas. As a boy, he would wake every morning and tend to their animals, including pigs, chickens, cows, horses, and even a burro. After being in school all day, he would come home and do it all over again. After moving to the U.S Salvador worked in grass seed farming, lumber mills, and dairies. In 2005, he was in the right place at the right time, and was hired to work in the poultry business. He bought his own poultry farm in 2008, and has been raising chickens, and the occasional herd of cattle, for over 14 years now.
Sal has seen many changes in agriculture and chicken farming since he bagan. Although it is still a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week job, technology has made it more cost effective to be a farmer, and machinery and has saved a lot of labor and made for healthier and happier birds. But restrictions and legislation has made it more difficult for farming and agriculture. Sal sees a problem for the future of agriculture in the Pacific Northwest, as it is getting more and more difficult for young people to start a career and have a life in farming.
In spite of the demands, Sal loves farming. While he may miss family vacations because of demands on the farm, he has coached his kids sports, volunteered at his boys schools, and done charity work in his community. Now that his boys are holder, he loves setting his own schedule, and occasionally swinging in his hammock with his dogs when the farm allows.