Four Illinois farmers have been selected as 2018 Master Farmers by Prairie Farmer magazine. They are Tom Martin, Mount Pulaski; Jim Rapp, Princeton; Fred Reichert, Auburn; and Darell Sarff, Chandlerville.
The letters of support submitted with Master Farmer nominations provide personal perspectives and touching memories about time spent with the honorees. For many Master Farmers, reading the letters is a humbling and honoring experience. Here’s a look at what some of their closest friends, associates and colleagues have to say about each member of the 2018 class of Prairie Farmer Master Farmers.
Tom Martin, Mount Pulaski
“Tom is a conservationist; he believes in maintaining and improving the health of the farm for future generations. I remember specifically his, at the time, cutting-edge efforts toward minimum till, no-till, well-timed nitrogen applications and prairie grass installation.”
Rodney Weinzierl, Illinois Corn Marketing Board
“Tom is dedicated to improving the environment and promoting better farming practices. He’s done a tremendous job of balancing environmental programs with production and stewardship of the soil.”
Thomas Harms, Herrin Fertilizer
“I have seen firsthand the genuine love that Tom has for his community. He has dedicated his time and resources to making our community a better place.”
Corey Leonard, Shelter Insurance Cos.
Jim Rapp, Princeton
“I have known Jim for over 30 years, and see firsthand his dedication to farming and his effectiveness in advancing agriculture.”
Tom Marquis, Marquis Energy
“People like Jim and Nancy, who are helping their boys to be the future of their family’s heritage, are a huge part of agriculture’s future success.”
Todd Winter, In Field Ag Inc.
“Clearly Jim has been and continues to be an outstanding practitioner of modern farm practice, and has gained respect throughout the agricultural community in northwestern Illinois, if not the entire state.”
Richard Coddington, Coddington Acres
Fred Reichert, Auburn
“Everybody has a hero. Mine is my dad. He has taught me just as much or more than my higher education. He has taught me life and how to live it.”
Mark Reichert, son and farm partner
“Through the years and with many deals and business transactions behind us, Fred’s sound character and high integrity have always been present. His word is stable and true.”
Greg Toppmeyer, Prairie State Bank and Trust
“As a fellow early riser, I usually open the doors at our dealership at 6 a.m. More often than not, Fred will be right behind me needing parts or needing to schedule a service call. Or if not farming, he’ll just stop in to visit and see how things are going. That is what relationships and partnerships in farming and communities are made of.”
Roger Spires, Sloan Implement Co.
Darell Sarff, Chandlerville
“Darell has always been a go-to guy for addressing local problems, and his opinions are well thought through. He’s been a great asset for every board he has been a member of, and he is continuously up to speed on all pertinent issues.”
Raymond Poe, Illinois Department of Ag director
“Darell would be the first to say that his business success can be attributed to luck. But I differ on this opinion. Darell has been successful because he’s worked hard and treated people fairly. People trust him.”
Colleen Callahan, former Illinois director of Rural Development
“Darell is not afraid to ask questions, and he is always eager to learn more. I have had the opportunity to observe many successful producers in my business, and Darell ranks in the top tier of that group.”
Joe Springer, Compeer Financial
Watch PrairieFarmer.com in the coming days for full profiles of each winner.