Duffy, Edwards Receive Iowa Master Farmer Exceptional Service Award

Duffy, Edwards Receive Iowa Master Farmer Exceptional Service Award

This award is designed to recognize individuals who are not farmers but who have devoted their career to helping farmers solve problems.

Michael Duffy, soon-to-be retired Iowa State University Extension professor of economics, and William Edwards, retired Iowa State University Extension economist, are 2014 recipients of the Iowa Master Farmer Exceptional Service Award, presented by Wallaces Farmer.

Duffy, who has been a valuable resource for Wallaces Farmer readers and a member of the Wallaces Farmer Timely Tips panel for more than 30 years, was born and raised in Nebraska. He received a B.S. in Natural Resources from University of Nebraska in 1975 and a M.S. in Agricultural Economics from Nebraska in 1977.  He received his Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Penn State in 1981.

William Edwards, left, and Michael Duffy reminisce about their careers in ISU Extension during the 2014 Iowa Master Farmer awards program on March 19.

Duffy started at ISU in 1983 as an area farm management specialist in the Cedar Rapids area office.  He worked there until 1985 when he moved to campus. 

On campus Duffy has had several roles.  He took over Farmaid , part of Extension's Assist program that was the overall response to the financial crises of the 1980s. In the late 1990s the name changed to Farm Financial Analysis.  The program has been scaled down considerably but is still going today. 

Land value surveys
Duffy took over the Soil Management Conference in 1985 and the ISU land value survey in 1986 and has run them ever since.

Duffy has been very active with beginning farmer programs, serving as the professor in charge and then director of the Beginning Farmer Center since its inception in 1994.  He was active in establishing the Beginning Farmer Network, the student club at ISU, and has been the advisor since 2005.

Sustainable agriculture has been a passion as well.  Duffy started as a field scout for an integrated crop management program in 1973.  His Master's thesis and PhD dissertation were on the economics of integrated pest management.   He worked with the Rodale Institute to get the first federal funding for what was called Low Input Sustainable Agriculture in the early 1980s, was a respondent in the Council for Agriculture and Science Technology response to the National Research Council Alternative Agriculture report in 1989 and was active with the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture since its beginning in 1987.  He served as associate director for the center for a number of years. 

Duffy was one of the founders for the Iowa State Graduate Program in sustainable agriculture in 2001, serving as the vice chair, chair and Director of Graduate Programs for the sustainable agriculture program.  This was the first program of its kind in the US and remains the only program that offers both an MS and PhD degrees. 

Last fall Duffy was honored by the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers with the Carl F. Hertz Distinguished Service in Agriculture Award. The national award honors individual service to agriculture, other than directly in the farm management and rural appraisal fields.

Duffy plans to retire from ISU on April 30.

Farm management advice
William Edwards grew up on a farm near Winterset, earned his BS in Ag Business at ISU in 1969, an MS in Ag Economics in 1971 and a PhD in Ag Economics in 1979 – the same year he went to work in the Department of Economics. His interests and research were focused on farm management, agricultural finance and international agricultural development.

He soon became a valuable resource for Wallaces Farmer readers providing timely farm management advice. He became a member of the Wallaces Farmer Timely Tips panel in 1982 and still serves in that role even after his retirement from ISU in 2013.

Edwards also continues to help judge nominations for the Iowa Master Farmer Award and has done so since 1983.

But his key role has been helping farmers with their farm management questions. As an extension economist, Edwards is also known for overseeing the development of some of the most requested information that ISU Extension and Outreach has to offer, such as the annual cash rental rate and custom farming rate surveys. Since 1998, he's also organized and operated the annual crop insurance agent conference, and since 1975 has helped with the Ag Credit School.

International experience
Edwards spent two years in the Peace Corps in Colombia and taught extension exchanges in Costa Rica and Peru, and as a result he's fluent in Spanish. He says that connecting with another culture taught him a lot about reaching common ground.

Edwards also enjoyed sharing those international experiences with his students, helping to lead five overseas travel courses to undergrads in agricultural business.  Edwards served as co-adviser to the Agricultural Business Club, which has won numerous national awards.

Edwards still owns and manages half the farm he grew up on near Winterset. As a boy, he participated in 4-H and remembers how his family relied on advice from the local extension office.
TAGS: Extension
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