The Master Farmer program adds new members to its ranks in ceremonies at the Beck Ag Center at the Agronomy Farm near West Lafayette tomorrow. Reservations are required to attend.
The Master Farmer program is sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer magazine and the Purdue University College of Agriculture. The modern version of the program dates back to 1968. More than 200 individuals have been honored in the program since it was restarted. AN earlier version in the mi-20s and 30s was halted during the Depression. Similar programs sponsored by state farm magazines, all part of the Farm Progress family of magazines, exists in other states as well.
This year's class includes Keith Berry, Greencastle, Ray McCormick, Vincennes, Mike Shuter, Frankton and David and Mary Howell, Middletown. Also, Tom Bauman, a long0tiem Purdue University weed control specialist, will be honored as an Honorary Master Farmer. This distinction is reserved for those who spend their career working on farmers' behalves, but who don't farm themselves.
We'll follow with more information about each awardee through the week. Here are frequently asked questions about Master Farmer?
Question: Is it based on only farming skills?
Answer: No, the original intent was to base it on about 60% farming efficiency and innovations, and 40% on leadership and service to community. Some excel more in one area than another. Some excel in both.
Question: Can someone nominate themselves?
Answer: Yes, but it's rare. Only one self-nomination has been received in the last decade, and it was not successful. There is certainly no problem with someone nominating themselves, but others normally want to do it because they respect the person and his family.
Question: Why was one couple awarded jointly this year?
Answer: That is the nominator's choice. It is also rare. However, in this case, Mary Howell is as involved in the actual farm operation as David, and it is only fitting that both be honored. All families are supportive, but in some cases the wife helps in other ways, such as working off the farm, and is not directly involved in the daily operations of the management of the farm. They are still important to the farm's success, but in a different way.
Question: Will the ceremony always be held at the Beck Ag Center from now on?
Answer: Not necessarily. It is an excellent facility and Purdue is a gracious host. However, both sponsors are open to suggestions on how to improve the program, which might include different locations at some point in the future.