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Serving: IL

Nominate a 2022 Master Farmer now

collage of past Prairie Farmer Master Farmer recipients
MASTERS: The last four Master Farmer classes are (clockwise, top left): 2020’s Ted Mottaz, Joe Pickrell, Susan and John Adams, Dale Hadden; 2019’s Bill Sahs, Boyd Schaufelberger, Jim Robbins, Marty Marr; 2017’s Tracy Jones, Allen Entwistle, Joel Kooistra, Kent Kleinschmidt; 2018’s Darell Sarff, Fred Reichert, Jim Rapp, Tom Martin.
Who do you know who ought to be a Master Farmer? Entries are open now, and we want to meet the best farmers in Illinois!

Ever thought of nominating someone you know for Prairie Farmer’s Master Farmer award? Now’s the time to get cracking with that process!

Related: Meet the 2020 Master Farmers

The application period for the 2022 class of Master Farmers is open now, and deadline for entry is Sept. 24. The application includes a nomination form and requires at least eight letters of support — but no financial information.

There’s a bit of an urban legend (which, in this case, probably makes it a rural legend) that Master Farmer nominees have to share their balance sheet. But make no mistake, we do not require that kind of financial information! The judging panel focuses on growth of the operation over time, agriculture productivity and community involvement.

Related: Meet the Master Farmers — at FPS21

Who’s eligible? Here’s a look:

  1. Candidates must farm in Illinois, deriving the majority of their income from agricultural production.
  2. Successful nominees will have proven agricultural production records, be recognized as leaders in their community, and will have given back to the community in substantive ways.
  3. Candidates may be individuals, couples or siblings; judging is equally weighted.
  4. Each nominee should be actively engaged in production agriculture.

The selection committee will be comprised of Illinois agricultural leaders, including experts in agronomy and agricultural finance, past Master Farmers, agricultural research or university authorities, and Prairie Farmer editorial staff.

We hope to be back to our normal pre-pandemic recognition process in 2021, which means Master Farmer winners will be recognized at the Master Farmer Awards Luncheon, held in early March. Members of the new class will be announced on on March 1 and in the March issue of Prairie Farmer. And as always, we’re grateful to Growmark for their sponsorship of the Master Farmer awards program.

Here’s a look at what makes for a successful application:

  • Be thorough. In the sections asking about farm history and growth, more information is better than less. Share how the individual(s) got started and show how their operation has progressed. No detailed financial information is required.
  • Get letters. Ask for at least eight recommendation letters to support your nomination. These letters give insight to character and reputation in the community.
  • Think small. Don’t forget all the things the nominee does in the local community and state and national organizations. These lists are often very detailed! For spouses or sibling nominations, list both individuals’ activities, noting who did what.
  • Start early. It’s not a quick process to nominate a Master Farmer. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime award, and the application reflects an entire career.
  • Think well-rounded. Community involvement is weighted highly as judges select winners, but so too is a farmer’s agricultural production skills and dedication to family.

The 2022 application is available online. Download it, fill it out and send it in, complete with letters of support, by Sept. 24. Or, email to have an application sent to you or to get more information.

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