by Lorna Callbeck
“I always wanted to be a farmer,” says Florian Possberg from B & F Polar Pork in Humboldt. Florian had his heart set on being a cattle farmer, finding his passion early when he joined the local 4-H beef club.
In 1975, as Florian completed his agriculture degree (majoring in economics) at the University of Saskatchewan, he realized, “if I was to make a living in farming, beef cattle wasn’t it, because I didn’t have land or resources, so getting into the cattle business would have been pretty difficult. My older brother suggested that I look at the hog business. My economics background indicated that I could make a living as a hog farmer, so right out of university, having already married the love of my life (Betty), we borrowed 20 acres from my brother and built a 60-sow operation. It grew to 100 sows the following year.”
Over the years, Florian’s growth-oriented approach led to many business initiatives. “We were involved with a company that brought superior genetics from the United Kingdom into Canada. We ended up being the high-health nucleus for the breeding stock business,” he recalls, noting that in 1995, his company was responsible for 1.1 million hogs per year.
Over time, the hog industry has changed and grown.
“People don’t raise hogs because it is romantic. They raise hogs because you can make a living at it. When you get into the business, you appreciate that you’re feeding the world. We have a lot more people in this world than we did a generation or two ago. Canada is really quite successful at food production. We export our product to some 100 countries and we have been able to do this with very high health and welfare standards.”
Today, although semi-retired, Florian and his son Bryan have expanded their business to 12,000 sows and they are still growing.
What would Florian like consumers to know about farming?
“Our animals have the best care than they’ve ever had before. Their nutrition is topnotch, our people who care for the animals are experts; and the science of caring for animals has improved immensely. Science and modern technology have allowed us to provide safe food in an environmentally sustainable and friendly manner”.
Florian and Betty raised their eight children on the farm. Florian reflects, “I have been involved in a lot of things nationally and have attended trade missions around the world. Quite frankly, without having a very sound, responsible and loving wife back home to manage the family affairs, none of this would have been possible. We really are a team and I end up getting most of the credit most of the time which really isn’t fair. Without her, I couldn’t have done much at all”.
“I ended up in a career that I wanted to do my whole life. Farming is a business, but more than a business, it is a way of life”.