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Max Armstrong ready to write next chapterMax Armstrong ready to write next chapter

Slideshow: The iconic farm broadcaster is changing roles but will still be active at the Farm Progress Show.

Tom J. Bechman

August 17, 2023

7 Slides

Max Armstrong began a new chapter in his life when he officially retired from Farm Progress on June 30. But no worries, you will still find him at the 2023 Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill.

“Come up and say hello,” Armstrong says. “Getting reacquainted with old friends and meeting new ones is what the Farm Progress Show is all about for me.”

When Armstrong was 8 years old growing up on a farm near Princeton, Ind., he decided he was going to become a farm broadcaster.

First, he spent over two years with Illinois Farm Bureau, where he met his wife, Linda. Then he spent 31 years at WGN in Chicago, working alongside fellow broadcasting icon Orion Samuelson.

Full career

For the past 14 years, Armstrong has headed up “This Week in Agribusiness,” a weekly TV program, and prepared daily radio broadcasts for “Farm Progress America,” heard on dozens of stations across the country. His efforts earned him distinction as an Honorary Master Farmer for Indiana in 2006 and for Illinois in 2018.

Co-host Mike Pearson will take the top spot at “This Week in Agribusiness.” But don’t be surprised if Armstrong guest-hosts occasionally. Pearson will also become the primary voice of “Farm Progress America.”

Meanwhile, Armstrong will fulfill duties at the Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days this year, and complete other key projects, including the “Best of Farm Progress” and the second season of “Farm Next,” sponsored by Pivot Bio in cooperation with Farm Progress. Both shows are on RFD-TV.

FPS memories

Armstrong’s most poignant memory from the Farm Progress Show may surprise you, but it reflects his love of country, farming and conservation.

“I was standing at the 2001 Farm Progress Show in Indiana, and it was around 9 a.m. that first morning. It was only two weeks since 9/11, and everyone was jumpy,” Armstrong says. “A somewhat older man approached, and I could tell he wanted to talk.

“ ‘You’re Max Armstrong, right?’ he began. ‘I want to show you something,’ he said, pulling out a picture. I had no idea where this was going,” Armstrong says.

The picture was of himself and a taller, younger man. According to Armstrong, the man said, “This was me and my nephew at the Farm Progress Show last year. I drove 900 miles to fulfill a promise and show you this picture.”

“As it turns out,” Armstrong says, “I was talking to Albert Ogonowski, Dracut, Mass., uncle of Capt. John Ogonowski, pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center.”

Always a farmer

Ogonowski said his nephew was a third-generation farmer before becoming a pilot. He had planned to attend the Lafayette, Ind., show with his uncle, so Ogonowski completed the trip.

“I stayed in touch with Albert, and later brought John’s story to light. He was a strong believer in conservation and in protecting land from development. His family farm in Massachusetts will remain in agriculture due to his efforts,” Armstrong says.

“To me, the Farm Progress Show is all about people you meet and friendships you kindle and rekindle. If you have met me before, come say hello. If not, I will be waiting to meet you at this year’s show.”

The 2023 Farm Progress Show is Aug. 29-31. Learn more at FarmProgressShow.com.

About the Author(s)

Tom J. Bechman

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Tom J. Bechman is editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer. He joined Farm Progress in 1981 as a field editor, first writing stories to help farmers adjust to a difficult harvest after a tough weather year. His goal today is the same — writing stories that help farmers adjust to a changing environment in a profitable manner.

Bechman knows about Indiana agriculture because he grew up on a small dairy farm and worked with young farmers as a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor before joining Farm Progress. He works closely with Purdue University specialists, Indiana Farm Bureau and commodity groups to cover cutting-edge issues affecting farmers. He specializes in writing crop stories with a focus on obtaining the highest and most economical yields possible.

Tom and his wife, Carla, have four children: Allison, Ashley, Daniel and Kayla, plus eight grandchildren. They raise produce for the food pantry and house 4-H animals for the grandkids on their small acreage near Franklin, Ind.

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