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What Makes a Master Farmer?

Title just confirms what neighbors already know.

Tom Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

July 26, 2010

2 Min Read

To get pictures and information for this new crop of Master Farmers whom are being honored this week in Indiana in ceremonies at the Beck Ag Center, I drove hundreds of miles across this state. All five, counting the honorary master farmer we'll name, are quite worthy, each with their own story to tell.

As I drove around and went through various towns, it would remind me of previous winners. As I headed toward Greencastle, I remembered Hubert McGaughey. On my way to Middletown, Bill and Kaye Whitehead came to mind. And so it went.

It occurred to me that all these people must have something in common. Then it dawned on me what it was. All are business savvy-smart to begin with- they operate a good, responsible farming operation. Nearly everyone has a strong, supportive family. More than once I've heard the expression: 'The best crop we raise on this farm is our kids." I probably first heard that from Larry and Susan Pumphrey at Greensburg some 20 plus years ago, but it's been repeated many times since.

The second thing they have in common is the willingness to serve others. Many give of their time. Some, like Keith Berry and mike Shuter, winners this year, are gone so much they must rely on sons coming into the business to help get the job done at home. And some have shared that it's not all by accident- part of letting the son or daughter take over some responsibility is to prepare them for the future.

The third thing is unselfish service to local friends and neighbors. The most likely nominator for a Master Farmer is a neighbor, fellow member on a board of an organization or someone they've helped along the way. Service to others is important these days, and nobody does it better than farmers.

I also passed through many towns and thought of people who have excellent farms- some I've just heard of, most I've visited before, yet they haven't been named Master Farmers yet. That doesn't mean they don't qualify, it just means someone hasn't taken the initiative to nominate them yet.

Indiana is blessed with farmers who are good, honest businessmen, who are willing to serve and who are caring to their neighbors. Some 200 have been named Master Farmers since 1968. Hundreds more are out there. We'll be looking or them for next year. Help us by seeing that the neighbor you look up to gets nominated next year.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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