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Farm Doesn't Have to Be Huge to Be Home to Master FarmerFarm Doesn't Have to Be Huge to Be Home to Master Farmer

This year's class had varying operations- not all large crop farmers.

Tom Bechman 1

July 11, 2011

2 Min Read

We're often asked what it takes to be a Master Farmer. Our answer is always the same. It takes commitment to what you're doing, efficiency in production, commitment to family, and a display of leadership in your community and or state ag service organizations.

One guest lamented after this year's program that some of the operations didn't have much crop acreage. That's true- neither Loran Wilson nor Jim Day raise more than a few hundred acres of crops. But they're probably two of the stronger, more organized cattle producers in the state of Indiana. The variety in this unique class simply underscored how different Master Farmers can be and still have excellent programs.

Thousands of acres of crops don't make a master farmer. You can farm thousands of acres and barely keep your head above water if you're sloppy of hired labor that doesn't take good care of equipment. Or you can farm thousands of acres and do an excellent job, like one of this year's awardees, Bill Schroeder, Freelandville. He and his sons Brian and Kent farm more than 3,000 acres of crops.

What the Master Farmer awards judging committee looks for are efficient operators that are good in their field, with a flair for community leadership and  a love of their family. They also need to be good stewards of their soils and natural resources.

There is no set scorecard that the judges use. One judge is Jay Akridge, Purdue University College of Agriculture's dean. Another is Carl Eiche, who has worked with the program in on capacity ever since it was restarted in 1968. The third is Bill Pickart, a landowner, former farmer with hogs, and who is now employed by Select Seed at Camden. After you've judged forms for decades or more, you have a feel for what you're looking for- someone who balances farming with family and community service, Pickart says.

Your next opportunity to nominate a Master Farmer will be next winter. Applications are due Feb. 15, 2012. We can supply you with the form. Indiana Prairie Farmer or Farm Progress staff can't nominate a person. That's why it's important to pick out someone who feel is observing, ask for letters of support from other people who respect

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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