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Submit your Master Farmer nomination

2022 Ohio Master Farmers Jeff Duling and Bret Margraf
2022 OHIO MASTER FARMERS: The 2022 Ohio Master Farmers included Jeff Duling (left) of Ottawa and Bret Margraf of McCutchenville.
Do you know someone who is a standout farmer? Nominate them by Oct. 15.

Just about every farmer or affiliate in the ag industry knows another farmer who is doing a bang-up job … and has been for years. 

They take care of the land, they are good stewards of the environment, they’re profitable and they help others in some way — whether that’s being a good neighbor or acting as a mentor, or maybe that includes serving in a commodity leadership position, local government, community activities or their church.

Chances are, you’re already picturing this person in your head. That’s exactly who I’m looking for when I talk about Master Farmers.

Everyone knows farmers get little recognition and take on more risk than most would consider sane, which is why I love this award. It finally puts a spotlight on the good farmers bring to this world, and the outstanding job they do feeding it.

The prestigious Master Farmer award is bestowed on individuals who have established how to farm more effectively, efficiently, environmentally and economically.

Please consider nominating a Master Farmer now, as the deadline is approaching. It’s easier than you think, especially if there are multiple people involved pulling it together. Keep in mind, this doesn’t have to be a surprise, but I will admit it’s kind of fun when it is.

First, here is the link to the online application. Download it, fill it out and send it in, complete with letters of support, by Oct. 15.

For more information or to have an application sent to you, email me at [email protected]. This is also where you will send the completed application and letters, or you can mail it to me at Jennifer Kiel, 710 W. Park Street, St. Johns, MI 48879.

Please make every effort to fill out the nomination completely, but it’s not a deal breaker if you can’t answer every question. The most compelling part of the nomination is the letters of support. They should build a case for why this farmer belongs in this elite group, which consistently demonstrates outstanding farm management, innovation, conservation and leadership. The award also takes into consideration growth of the operation and the future direction.

In Michigan, there are three Master Farmers named each year. In Ohio, there are two. I’m not real sure why they are different, other than these two programs were started by two different people. It’s a matter of history, so I’m sticking with it.

Last year’s winners in Michigan were William (Bill) Hunt of Davison, Dennis Gardner of Yale and Greg McCarthy of Edmore. In Ohio, they included Bret Margraf of McCutchenville and Jeff Duling of Ottawa.

Photos by Jennifer Kiel2022 Michigan Master Farmers Bill Hunt, Greg McCarthy and Dennis Gardner

2022 MICHIGAN MASTER FARMERS: The 2022 Michigan Master Farmers included (from left) William (Bill) Hunt of Davison, Greg McCarthy of Edmore and Dennis Gardner of Yale.

You can ask any one of them, or any prior winners, and they’ll admit — while being incredibly humbled — they really enjoyed the award. Many Master Farmer plaques are now hanging proudly in farm offices.

What happens if you win?

You’ll be hearing from me to go over some of the details and to set up an interview. The videotaped interview will be used to write a story and to produce a video that will be shared during the awards ceremony, which is the last day of the Great Lakes Crop Summit in Mount Pleasant, Mich., which is at the end of January 2023.

In Ohio, the winners are acknowledged during the opening session of the Ohio Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference, set for the first week of March 2023.

The story will appear online after the awards ceremony with a gallery of photos, and will be published in American Agriculturist magazine, which has incorporated Michigan Farmer and Ohio Farmer.

Winners receive a prestigious plaque and are invited to make a few remarks — some choose not to, and that’s OK.

Being able to acknowledge what often goes unrewarded is one of the best aspects of my job. I need your help in identifying my next Master Farmers — I look forward to hearing from you!

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