Meet the farmer – Olle Pallars

Meet Olle Pallars, who together with an employee run the farm in Hiklack, Järvsö. Apart from being a farmer he run a real estate company and is a board member of a bank. Recently he was also elected Chairman of Lantmännen's District Board for Gävleborg. Olle lives together with Lisa, his soon to be wife and together they have two children, Edvin 5,5 years old and Signe 3,5 years old. 

Name, age, and family: Olle Pallars, 45 years old, living with Lisa who will become my wife after the summer. Together we have two children, Edvin 5.5 years old and Signe 3.5 years old.  

Interests: Dancing, originally folk dancing but now mostly ballroom dancing. Skiing is also a big interest; however, the family takes up almost all the time right now! 

How come you are a farmer? 

Becoming a farmer was not an obvious choice, even though I am now the 13th generation to run the farm where I grew up. Even though I grew up with agriculture, my interest has swung back and forth during my upbringing. A major influence that not everyone thinks about is the parents' and the industry's sometimes negative tone about farming as a profession. This often rubs off on the next generation. However, I like challenges and the fact that there are so many different tasks in agriculture. Also, that I can control as much as possible myself, everything from production orientation and to whom I prefer to sell my products. 

What kind of farm do you run and with whom?  

I run the farm in Hiklack, Järvsö together with an employee. If necessary, we hire subcontractors. My wife-to-be works completely outside of the farm, which is actually quite nice. We always have different approaches and experiences to talk about at the end of the day.  

After graduating as an agricultural technologist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences with a focus on economics and marketing, I took over the farm in 2005, which was then a traditional dairy farm. After a few years, I changed the focus of the farm from milk to horse feed for trotters. That is one branch and the other one is the 60 functional suckler cows and 30 young calves that we have on the farm. The farm also includes a lot of forest and together with a partner I have a real estate company with 30 rental apartments. In addition to this, I have also been a board member of a bank for 13 years. I was also recently elected as Chairman of Lantmännen's District Board for Gävleborg.    

What is the most fun thing about being a farmer? 

The four seasons and seeing things grow. In addition, you rarely work with the same task for a very long time. The variety is the best!  

What is the most challenging thing about being a farmer? 

I get a bit grumpy and sad when weather and wind mess things up, factors that can't be influenced, which can be frustrating. But that's also a part of the challenge and what triggers me. My best years financially tend to be the so called "problem years". It can definitely be mentally stressful but that's when I rethink and come up with new ideas. An advantage of the horse feed market is that supply and demand set the price level in my own market, therefore I can often set the price needed to keep a stable economy. The advantage during problematic years is that customers appreciate the delivery of feed even more.  

What does a typical day look like for a farmer like you in April? 

Right now, the last snow is starting to disappear on the shady sides around the fields, so we are devoting ourselves to preparations for the season. Repairs of machinery and maintenance. The seed drill is now ready, and we are in the starting blocks. I have also practiced driving a lot with a new tractor equipped with GPS control, so now I hope it will work nicely when the spring cultivation starts. So, waiting times with a little butterfly in the stomach! 

The 2023 harvest was tough for many. What was it like for you and your farm? 

The year you'd rather forget! It was a bit of a disastrous year. The rain came just in time for my horse feed harvest. The quantity was low and the quality poor, but somehow, I managed to get through it. However, there was a lot of damage to my fields due to driving machinery in wet conditions. I've had to plough up almost a quarter of my grassland and this year I'm sowing more grain. Involuntarily there will now be a different harvest with less grass and more grain. However, the seed is a challenge, but I hope to get what I need in time. I have for peas but not for the grains.  

Any lessons learned from last year's harvest?  

Maybe that you need to be even more on your toes and conduct harvest when the weather provides a possibility. However, you always need to take into account quantity and quality. Horse owners, in particular, are picky about the quality with regards to protein and energy. It is important to meet demands, otherwise you will have no saleable product anyway.  

Finally, what are the conditions for this year's spring farming?  

We'll see. I'm optimistic even if it's a bit early to predict for me as it's still wet and a little snow on the fields. The first week of May we usually start so we aim for that. Almost everything that needs to be ploughed is ploughed anyway so that's nice. But some of the seed is still missing!