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What you always wanted to know about the Honorary Master Farmer award

master farmer award
Anyone can offer up names for the next potential Honorary Master Farmer.

Not everyone who serves Indiana agriculture in great ways is a farmer. Those who do farm are eligible to be selected as Master Farmers. The nomination process is currently underway, with nominations due Feb. 15. Those who aren’t farmers but who still contribute to Indiana agriculture can be named as Honorary Master Farmers.

Questions arise about the Honorary Master Farmer award every year. Here are simple answers:

Who sponsors this award?
Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture sponsor all Master Farmer awards in Indiana, including the Honorary Master Farmer award.

Does the person have to be nominated by someone like a regular Master Farmer?
No. The Master Farmer judging committee reserves the right to select someone it feels is worthy of the honor.

Can anyone nominate someone they feel is worthy of the award?
Yes! Suggestions are always welcome. Some past recipients came to the committee’s attention because someone nominated them.

Do you have to fill out the Master Farmer nomination form?
No. You can simply compose a letter of nomination and send it to: Indiana Prairie Farmer, P.O. Box 247, Franklin, IN 46131. Or you can compose an email, or scan a letter, and send it to: [email protected].

Does the person need to be known statewide, or can it be someone who has provided outstanding service on a regional basis?
This is a tough one. There are dozens of local people who many look up to. However, there are also dozens of people who have served farmers across the state. The committee will consider all nominees, but it tends to give preference to those who have served Hoosiers everywhere.

Is an Honorary Master Farmer named every year?
No. The Master Farmer judging committee is under no obligation to select someone every year. In the past decade, the committee has attempted to honor someone annually because there are plenty of deserving individuals. But if the timing isn’t right for someone, it’s possible to have a year when an Honorary Master Farmer isn’t named.

Does the recipient need to be present at the Master Farmer ceremony?
Yes. That’s the tradition for Master Farmers, and it also applies to Honorary Master Farmers. In fact, very deserving individuals have declined the honor because they couldn’t be present. In some cases, they were selected at a later time.

Does an Honorary Master Farmer receive the same recognition as Master Farmers?
Yes. A story about them appears on the website and in Indiana Prairie Farmer. They receive the same coveted plaque that Master Farmers receive. They also participate in the panel discussion at the Master Farmer event. The discussion occurs after the official ceremony. For the past several years and again this year, Master Farmers and an Honorary Master Farmer, if one is selected, will be honored during the first night of the Indiana Farm Management Tour in late June.

Is there a list of past Honorary Master Farmers?
Yes. They’re typically included in the year they were selected, unless that year isn’t known. You can find their names in the Master Farmer section of Look for more information about past Honorary Master Farmers coming later this week in this blog.    

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