Do you know someone who deserves to be considered for the Iowa Master Farmer Award? Nominate them. Nominations are due Oct. 1 for the awards presented next March. For a nomination form, write to Wallaces Farmer, 6200 Aurora Ave., Suite 203E, Urbandale, IA 50322. Or call the office at 515-505-1540.
Started in 1926, the Iowa Master Farmer program is the longest-running farmer recognition in the country. Henry A. Wallace, editor of Wallaces Farmer from 1921 to 1933, initiated the award to call attention to Iowa farmers who not only demonstrate outstanding management in their farming operations, but also provide leadership in their local community, or in state and national organizations.
When Wallace instituted the award, it made perfect sense to use the magazine’s motto — “Good Farming, Clear Thinking, Right Living” — as the basis for judging Master Farmer nominations. This still holds true today. Award nominees are held to a higher standard of ethics, requiring that Iowa Master Farmers not only skillfully manage their farms and market their products, but also invest time and resources in pursuit of a successful family and community life.
The 81st class of Master Farmers was honored in 2017, bringing the total to 475 Iowa farm families who have been honored since the program began. In recent years, the award has been presented to four winners each year.
So what is a Master Farmer? How are they selected? The judges consider operation and management of the farm, how the nominee got started, and how they’ve grown the operation, while demonstrating sound financial management.
Those who are good stewards of the land and give proper care to livestock receive high marks. An interest in farm organizations — not only in membership but in leadership as well — is part of the makeup of a Master Farmer. Church activities aren’t required, but you’ll rarely find a Master Farmer who isn’t an active supporter of a church.
Note that this is a family award. Farming is a true partnership between husband and wife. All members of the family contribute to the success of the operation. Anyone can nominate a Master Farmer — father, spouse, neighbor, children, and Extension directors and specialists. Letters of support from community leaders, pastors, co-op managers, etc., help strengthen a nomination. The more letters, the better to support your nomination.
Please give this some thought and send your nomination in by Oct. 1. If you have questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Winners are recognized at the annual Master Farmer Awards Day in March. Members of the new class are announced on our website and in the March issue of Wallaces Farmer. Thanks!