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2018 Master Farmer winners
MASTERS: The 2018 Master Farmers gather for a photo after the ceremony. Pictured are Prairie Farmer Editor Holly Spangler (left), Master Farmer Fred Reichert, Master Farmer Darell Sarff, Honorary Master Farmer Max Armstrong, Master Farmer Jim Rapp, Master Farmer Tom Martin, and Prairie Farmer Associate Editor Jill Loehr.

Prairie Farmer presents Master Farmer awards

Four Master Farmers and one Honorary Master Farmer were recognized at an awards luncheon. Gov. Bruce Rauner congratulated the winners and addressed the crowd.

Prairie Farmer magazine recognized the 2018 Master Farmers and Honorary Master Farmer this week at the annual Master Farmer Awards Luncheon, held Wednesday, March 14, in Springfield, Ill.

Prairie Farmer editors founded the Master Farmer award in 1925 as a way to honor hard-working farmers for excellence in the career and in giving back to their community. Since then, nearly 350 Illinois farmers have been recognized as Master Farmers.

2018 Master Farmer honorees included Tom Martin, Mount Pulaski; Jim Rapp, Princeton; Fred Reichert, Auburn; and Darell Sarff, Chandlerville.

Max Armstrong also received the prestigious Honorary Master Farmer award. Editors select an honorary Master Farmer based on very similar credentials to the Master Farmer program: someone whose character and work ethic exemplify the Master Farmer ideal of hard work, integrity and a desire to make everything and everyone around them better. In the history of the program, only 15 Honorary Master Farmer awards have been presented.

Gov. Bruce Rauner also came to congratulate the Master Farmers. He told the crowd, “The good Lord did not make us Democrats or Republicans. The Lord put us on Earth to do his work, help each other, work together and make our world better. That’s what our Master Farmers do.

“Master Farmers are outstanding agriculture producers, but they also are very strong leaders in community service, and they make a difference,” Rauner added.

CONGRATS: Gov. Bruce Rauner congratulates longtime farm broadcaster Max Armstrong for his Honorary Master Farmer award.

Raymond Poe, Illinois Department of Agriculture director, brought greetings from IDOA. “Year after year, Master Farmers are excellent role models, and I don’t think we have enough of that to promote the agricultural industry,” Poe said. “I want to thank you for your commitment to the industry.”

The Prairie Farmer Master Farmer awards are sponsored by Growmark Inc. Like the Master Farmer award, the Growmark system was born during the 1920s, when farmer cooperatives first organized the Illinois Farm Supply Co. Today, the brand is known as FS.

The Master Farmer awards is a grassroots program, and all nominations come from farmers, farm organizations and community leaders. The 2019 nomination form is available online or by emailing holly.spangler@farmprogress.com. Nominations are due Sept. 10.

CEREMONY: Pictured at the Master Farmer awards ceremony are Holly Spangler, Prairie Farmer (left); Rosanne Sarff, Fred Reichert, Darell Sarff, Eileen Reichert, Linda Armstrong, Max Armstrong, Gov. Bruce Rauner, Nancy Rapp, Jim Rapp, Cheryl Martin, Tom Martin and Jill Loehr, Prairie Farmer.
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