Doug Harbach manages Schrack Farms in Loganton, Pennsylvania.
Doug’s ancestors have been producing food in Sugar Valley for a long time. In fact, the original Schrack Farms farmstead dates all the way back to the late 1700s.
In the face of a crisis
Schrack Farms is currently home to 1,400 mature cows and 1,200 young stock. They also farm about 2,200 acres with the help of 26 full time employees, most of whom are family members.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early spring 2020, Doug and his business partners’ first concern was for the health and safety of their employees and their family. They, like everyone, didn’t know what was happening or the best practices for keeping everyone safe. Their second concern quickly shifted towards how do to take care of cows and continue farming in the face of severe uncertainty.
Unsure how to proceed, Doug found himself relying upon support and guidance from his network. “I reached out to our business advisors on a daily basis, because things changed every day,” he said. “It's been very valuable to us to have some really good conversations about our business and how to move our business forward.”
Horizon was there to help
Schrack Farms has relied on their partners at Horizon Farm Credit in good times and bad; and the COVID-19 pandemic was no different.
“Farm Credit's been a huge part of our business planning process,” Doug said. “Our business consultant, Mike, and our loan officer, Sam, are always part of the discussion on what we can do to move things forward.”
Doug found himself in conversation with Mike and Sam regularly throughout the pandemic, in hopes of finding ways to keep the business going and their community fed despite the many roadblocks he faced.
In the face the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Doug and his partners on the farm look to the future with hope.
“We're very excited about the future of our dairy industry,” Doug said. “We feel that we can take excellent care of our cows and do it in an environmentally sustainable way.”
What’s more, Doug dreams of one day making room for the next generation of farmers to milk cows and tend crops at Schrack Farms. “We're excited about the future possibilities for my kids, my grandkids and the generations to come who could live in Sugar Valley and take care of the land and the cattle for many generations.”