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Serving: IN

Bob Cherry puts Indiana farmers first

Tom J. Bechman Bob Cherry
HOME ON THE FARM: Bob Cherry maintains an office on the farm, now operated day to day by his nephews, and enjoys any time he can spend in a tractor.
Honorary Indiana Master Farmer Bob Cherry has worked behind the scenes to benefit agriculture.

Unless you live where Bob Cherry serves as a state representative, you may not recognize his name. Perhaps his face is familiar. But no matter where you live in Indiana, if you’re engaged in agriculture, you’ve benefited from what Cherry has accomplished for agriculture so far during his career.

While he’s still involved in the family farming operation, farming isn’t his primary occupation. Yet a career devoted to agriculture makes him worthy of the Honorary Master Farmer award. The Master Farmer program is co-sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue College of Agriculture.

Related: Welcome Indiana’s new Master Farmers

Cherry, Greenfield, Ind., grew up on a family farm and graduated from Purdue University. His career path helped him land a position teaching agriculture at Greenfield Central High School. The high school he attended, Hancock Central, merged with Greenfield while Cherry was away. Successful but called to do other things, he joined the state education staff, working with FFA and Indiana Young Farmers. Then Cherry transitioned to working with the Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmers program.

Next, he devoted 13 years to ag lending with what is now Farm Credit Services Mid-America. Then, he rejoined Indiana Farm Bureau, this time working with legislators on important ag issues.

Believing he could make even more of a difference if he were a legislator, Cherry successfully ran for a seat representing his home district. He’s held a seat for 24 years and is running for reelection. He retired from INFB just a few years ago to concentrate on his family and elected office.

Career highlights

So, what has Cherry accomplished over his career? Here are some highlights:

Property tax relief. Cherry played a key role in helping achieve significant property tax relief, especially for landowners, when the Indiana General Assembly made major changes to property tax laws within the past decade.

“Farmers benefited, but it also benefited local communities,” he says.

New state-funded facilities. “I am especially proud that we found the money to help Purdue build a new veterinary medicine school,” Cherry says. The project is nearing completion. Without it, Cherry believes Indiana’s only vet school would have lost national accreditation.

He’s equally proud that the Legislature provided funds to build the Fall Creek Pavilion, now under construction at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

Help for old barns. A few years ago, Cherry authored legislation allowing property tax exemptions for people restoring barns built prior to 1950. He believes preserving the heritage represented by old barns is valuable.

Increased education funding. “Providing more funding for education was long overdue,” Cherry says. As vice chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Cherry was in a position to finally help increase government efforts to support education.

Referendums for school and community projects. Cherry’s fingerprints are all over the current referendum system used when school corporations or local government entities want to tackle large expenditures.

“We wanted it to be fair in that a government entity couldn’t use taxpayer funds to campaign for a project which would increase taxes,” he says.

A snapshot of Bob Cherry

Beginning: Cherry grew up on a family farm in Hancock County, Ind., and attended Hancock Central High School.

Education: Cherry graduated from Purdue University, qualifying as a vo-ag teacher.

Career: His professional titles include vo-ag teacher at Greenfield Central High School; Indiana Department of Education staff member working with FFA and Indiana Young Farmers; Indiana Farm Bureau, working with Farm Bureau Young Farmers; Production Credit Association for 13 years, where he served as vice president of credit; Indiana Farm Bureau, working with legislative programs; and representative to the Indiana General Assembly for 24 years, where he is currently vice chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Family: Cherry and his wife, Deb, have five children and 12 grandchildren. He is part of a family farming operation with his nephews Jeff and Chris.

Service and awards: Cherry serves on the Indiana State Fair Commission and the Purdue Ag Advisory Council. He received the Masonic 33rd Degree during ceremonies in Washington, D.C.

Notable: Cherry is the fifth generation to live in the family farmhouse and own the land. While at Purdue, he did a vo-ag summer internship under Jim Cummings, Whiteland, and student-taught under Gerald Runyon, Clay City. Cummings and Runyon, both deceased, were influential ag teachers of their generation. The author was an FFA member at Whiteland when Cherry interned.

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