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Serving: IN

Most frequently asked questions about Master Farmers

Tom J. Bechman Barry Bishop
PAST AWARDEE: Barry Bishop, Campbellsburg, Ind., was named a Master Farmer in 2018. He raises crops and cattle in Orange County.
It’s time to nominate candidates for the Indiana Master Farmer program.

Once each year, you can nominate a neighbor, friend or relative for the Indiana Master Farmer award. That time is now! Nominations are due Feb. 15.

Here are often-asked questions about the Master Farmer program.

Who sponsors the program in Indiana? Indiana Prairie Farmer and Purdue University’s College of Agriculture sponsor the program.

Who can nominate someone, and when? Anyone not affiliated with Indiana Prairie Farmer can submit a nomination. The program is unique because awardees are nominated by their peers.

Who can be nominated? Any farmer in Indiana is eligible to be nominated. Today, someone can be nominated alone, or a couple can be nominated together. Exemplary candidates typically include those who have excelled at agricultural production during their career, conserved natural resources and displayed leadership off the farm at the local, state and/or national level.

How are Master Farmers selected from the nominees? The judges panel includes the Purdue dean of the College of Agriculture, a past Master Farmer and either an ag economist or a farm manager. The judges evaluate nominations based on all information submitted with the nomination form, plus six letters of support from other people. Neighbors, fellow farmers, Extension educators, farm credit personnel, soil conservation staff, landowners, farm organization leaders and ag businesspeople usually are excellent choices to ask to write letters of support.

What is the responsibility of the nominator? As the nominator, you collect information about your nominee, fill out the application form, secure letters from other people and submit the form on time — Feb. 15. If your candidate is successful, you will be invited to the awards ceremony during the summer.

When are awardees officially announced? Successful candidates are usually notified in April. The awards are presented during a program as part of the Indiana Farm Management Tour in late June or early July. The program rotates around the state as part of the tour. The new class of Master Farmers is officially recognized with stories in the July issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer. These articles usually appear online during the last week of June as the magazine begins to reach mailboxes. Recipients of the award should be available to attend the awards program and panel discussion that follows the ceremony.

How are honorary Master Farmers selected? The Honorary Master Farmer award recognizes people who make contributions to Indiana agriculture but who are not full-time farmers. The award is presented at the discretion of the editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, who relies on input from Master Farmer judges to determine if the award will be give, and if so, who will receive it. Anyone can submit a name to be considered for this award. You don’t need to fill out the complete Master Farmer nomination form, but a letter describing the candidate is helpful. Letters of support are optional.

Where can I learn more about nominating a Master Farmer? Visit IndianaPrairieFarmer.com. There is a link in the story for the nomination form. The story also lists past winners since 1968. You can also email tom.bechman@farmprogress.com or call 317-431-8766 and ask for a nomination form and list of past Master Farmers.

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