John Scott was a full-time dairy farmer for 30 years, but he was also a regional director for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture until he retired in 2011.
“I was the eyes and the ears of the secretary of agriculture in western Pennsylvania. I enjoyed every aspect of the job, working on behalf of farm families, representing agriculture at county fairs and in meetings with agricultural organizations and industry representatives,” Scott says.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau presented Scott with its Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award during the organization’s 69th Annual Meeting in Hershey, held Nov. 18-20. The award is presented to an individual whose dedicated work and service have significantly contributed to the advancement of Pennsylvania agriculture.
“It’s humbling and a great honor to be included on the list of Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award winners. It feels like a lifetime achievement award for everything I’ve done with Farm Bureau over the years, and for all the mentors I’ve had along that journey,” Scott says.
He was born and raised on his family’s farm in Allegheny County. Throughout his farming career, Scott has advocated for farm families and agricultural issues, and frequently hosted policymakers on his farm —a Bicentennial Farm that has been in the family since 1789. Scott still owns the farm, but his sons have taken over running it.
The award judges were especially impressed with the role Scott played in hosting international delegations from Australia, France, Germany, Panama, Russia and countries in South America, while also conducting two agricultural missions to Ukraine through the U.S. Agency for International Development. During those visits, Scott assisted in the transition from Soviet central control to farmers having a free choice of their crops and farming methods.
“The farmers from the Ukraine wanted to know how they could improve their operations and learn how to market milk, organize supply systems and find out how private farms could work with government agencies,” he says. “The Ukrainian farmers also were interested in learning how to form an organization like Farm Bureau, where a large group could speak on behalf of farmers.”
Scott has also been involved in dozens of agricultural positions, community organizations and associations over the years. For example, he currently serves as Washington County Farm Bureau president, a board member of the Allegheny County Conservation District, and a member of the Farm Service Agency county committees for Allegheny, Beaver and Butler counties.
“It’s very exciting to see all the younger people, including my sons, coming into farming and Farm Bureau, and how they are doing things differently than what I did. It’s also fun seeing the next generation taking over the responsibilities on the farm,” he says.