Everyone knows John Sikkens! As president of the Niagara Pork Producers for five years in a row, “he was the idea man,” says Kelly Staples. And he had great ideas. Great enough that the room was always filled for the evening of the Pork Producers Banquet, they came for the wonderful pork dinner and the fabulous entertainment. John was also instrumental in the Pork Recipe competition at the Smithville Fair, where the Bacon Cheesecake drew rave reviews from the audience. And everyone wanted to win the pork BBQ party as the raffle prize that was offered up the Pork Producers. Apparently all John’s ideas! John enjoys volunteering. He has just passed the presidency to James Reesor but he will continue on as a delegate to the Ontario Pork Board. He also volunteers with the CFIA and he is a Provincial Director of Soil and Crop.
Together with his wife Ingrid and his son John they manage their farm. Their son Zach helps out on the farm for the summer and John has no plans on retiring. “I plan on staying in agriculture, I like being involved on the farm and at the Board level, we need more agriculturally minded people involved at the township and regional level to bring common sense to the table,” he says.
John hasn’t always had pigs. After immigrating to Canada at the age of two, the family had a dairy farm. “I hated school,” says John, “I always stayed home to help out on the farm. I loved the whole scene, the cows, the field work, the milking. We were a dairy family until 2000.” In 1999 the year was dry. There was no rain and no extra feed. We discussed it and decided that we should try something new. On January 1st we went from a labour intensive dairy operation to an automated pig barn. Our cows left and it felt like we were on holidays,” he shares. John now started to work off the farm part time and then full time for a while. His son Jonathan started helping more with the pigs and in 2006 they purchased another farm for Jonathan to raise pigs also.
While pig prices have fluctuated substantially over the years it makes farming unpredictable, so they continue to work their land and lands in the community. The automated barns give John and Jonathan time to cash crop. Together they grow 150 acres of corn, 900 acres of beans and 150 acres of wheat. Providing fire wood for customers also keeps them busy when they have a little time on their hands. For fun John likes to go bowling and Ingrid likes to go camping. They both like to spend time with their children and grandchildren.
“Farming is hard,” says John, “the prices fluctuate on commodities, we are told what people are willing to pay and the weather we have no control over. Many years there are no vacations from the work, there are more and more regulations and it is harder and harder to take the farm equipment on the road to travel from field to field.” “However it sure is better than raising kids in the city, I make my own hours, I can sit outside in the fresh air and I know all my neighbours.” “ And the pigs like to see me coming and hear what I have to say, a nice life.”