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Agriculturalists Who Influence: Max Armstrong

Agriculturalists Who Influence: Max Armstrong
Day 20 of 30: His is a voice of influence on the radio, across the TV, and throughout both farm and non-farm homes.

This is another of those days when I could just say, Max Armstrong. Obviously. He's an agriculturalist who influences. Done. And everyone would nod and that could be the beginning, middle and end of the story because the reasons are all so apparent.

But that's no fun.

The truth is, though we have a strangely intertwined agricultural background, I never dreamed Max Armstrong would ever even know who I am. I can't quite recall when I first met Max, but I feel like it must've been at the Farm Progress Show, and perhaps after he began working with Farm Progress (now Penton Agriculture) and we became actual colleagues.

The world, of course, knows Max as a world-class farm broadcaster. An expert and a legend in radio and agricultural news. A veritable agricultural celebrity, if there is such a thing. He has a Wikipedia page! And an app! He's a colleague to Orion Samuelson. A recognizable voice in hundreds of thousands of households in America.

"This is Max Armstrong."

You can hear it, can't you?

What I've come to learn over the past few years is that Max Armstrong is also a world-class human being. His praise and encouragement are generous and free flowing. His advice is substantial. And his simple care for another person is spot-on. When my mother was dying and the days were hard, when knowing someone else cared was enough to carry us through, his email to me one day was very likely the high point of my dad's day. We stood and read it in my mother's kitchen. Words of encouragement, just when they were needed most, almost as if he knew.

Max grew up just across the Wabash River from my southern Illinois home, near Owensville, Indiana. A farm boy whose parents bought cattle from my dad, he earned a degree from Purdue University. He spent decades in radio and TV in Chicago with Orion. He racked up experience, accolades and trust. All of agriculture knew him. A lot of Chicago did, too. He produced and hosted U.S. Farm Report for five years and by 2005, he and Orion founded This Week in Agribusiness. In 2009, Max became director of broadcasting for Farm Progress America.

Over his nearly 40-year career, he's reported from every U.S. state and more than 30 nations. He's influenced farm decisions worldwide. He's also been a voice of truth to consumers, far before it became trendy to do so.

Max's Farm Progress Show Gator is always well marked.

That influence extends to some incredibly influential people, as well. A couple years ago when Dodge put out their "So God Made a Farmer" commercial and Paul Harvey caught flack for potential animal rights ties, I learned just how influential those ag guys in Chicago could be. Radio is a small world, even in Chicago; when Harvey began to veer a little, Max and Orion talked with him, his producer and his engineer. Paul Harvey respected them and he listened; it was important to him to be accurate, and he'd even quote them on air occasionally, to some 600 U.S. radio stations and Armed Forces Radio around the world.

Think about that for a second: here's an ag guy with relationships and access to a major public influencer, sharing truth about agriculture.

Add that to his influence on the farm community, the antique tractor community and his ability to be a Grade-A human being and there's little question: he's an agriculturalist who influences.

Agriculturalists Who Influence: The Series

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