Wallaces Farmer

How to nominate an Iowa Master Farmer

Farmers who are good stewards of the land and give proper care to livestock and crops are recognized.

Rod Swoboda

May 17, 2024

3 Min Read
Master Farmer medallion
DEEP ROOTS: The Iowa Master Farmer Award is rooted in the principles of Good Farming, Clear Thinking and Right Living.Farm Progress

by Rod Swoboda

Do you know someone who deserves to be considered for the Iowa Master Farmer Award? Nominate them. Nominations for the 2025 award are due Sept. 6.

Maybe it’s your parents, a sibling, your neighbors, a friend or a colleague. Perhaps its someone you’ve served with on a board, or someone you’ve long looked up to. Candidates may also nominate themselves.

Henry A. Wallace started the Master Farmer Award program in 1926 to recognize “Good Farming, Clear Thinking, Right Living.” A panel of judges selects the winners each year. Wallaces Farmer recognizes the winners in the magazine’s March issue.

The application includes a nomination form and requires letters of support — but no financial information. There’s a rumor that Master Farmer nominees have to share their balance sheet. Not true. No one needs to provide that kind of financial information. The judging panel focuses on growth of the farming operation over the years, productivity and community involvement.

Eligibility criteria

Candidates should have a profitable farming operation, be good managers and take care of the land, while having a strong family and being involved in the community. Who’s eligible? Here’s a look:

  • Candidates must farm in Iowa, deriving the majority of their income from agricultural production.

  • Successful nominees have ag production records, are recognized leaders in the community and have given back to the community in many ways.

  • Candidates may be individuals, couples or siblings; judging is equally weighted.

  • Each nominee should be actively engaged in agricultural production.

The selection committee is comprised of Iowa ag leaders, past Master Farmers, ag research or university specialists and the Wallaces Farmer editor. Candidates who don’t receive the award the year they are nominated are welcome to have their names resubmitted in following years. Notify Wallaces Farmer if you would like to amend your nomination in subsequent years.

Master Farmer winners are honored at the Master Farmer Awards Day luncheon, typically held in March. Wallaces Farmer is grateful to Growmark helping sponsor the Awards Day event.

Application guidelines

Here’s a look at what makes for a successful application:

  • Be thorough. In the sections asking about farm history and growth, more information is better than less. Share how the individual(s) got started and how the operation has progressed. No detailed financial information is required.

  • Get letters. Attach a minimum of four letters of support, including one from a neighboring farmer. These letters give insight into character and reputation in the community.

  • Think local. List all things the nominee does in the local community, and in state and national organizations. These lists are often very detailed. For spouse or sibling nominations, list both individuals’ activities, noting who does what.

  • Start early. It’s not a quick process to nominate a Master Farmer. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime award, and the application reflects an entire career.

  • Think well-rounded. Community involvement is weighted highly as judges select winners; but so, too, are a farmer’s ag production skills and dedication to family.

To nominate a candidate, download the form, complete it with letters of support and send it to [email protected] by Sept. 6.

About the Author(s)

Rod Swoboda

Rod Swoboda is a former editor of Wallaces Farmer and is now retired.

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