Many of us know a local farmer who has gone above and beyond in their management and agronomic practices, and commitment to their community and agriculture. Take a good look around your farming community, your family and friends, the boards and committees you serve on, and there's likely someone you know who you could nominate as a 2022 Iowa Master Farmer.
The Iowa Master Farmer Award, sponsored by Wallaces Farmer, is a grassroots program — it survives and relies on your nominations. You can find a nomination form at WallacesFarmer.com. Then, hover the cursor over "Farm Business" and click on "Master Farmer." Here, you can click on "Iowa Master Farmer Nomination Form" and download a PDF of the form. Or, you can call for a nomination form at 816-372-3757, and we'll send you one. Then, fill it out and send it to us, complete with letters of support, by Oct 1. Mail it to 6303 1/2 Wirt St., Omaha, NE 68104. Or, you can email a scan of the form, along with scans of letters of support, to tyler.harris@FarmProgress.com.
Anyone can nominate a Master Farmer — father, mother, spouse, neighbor, children, as well as Extension directors and specialists. Letters of support from community leaders, pastors, co-op managers, etc., help strengthen a nomination. The more letters to support your nomination, the better.
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.
What’s a Master Farmer?
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.
After the 2020 ceremony was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 84th class of Master Farmers will be honored in September 2021, bringing the total to 489 Iowa families who have been honored since the program began. In recent years, four winners have been awarded annually.
So, what is a Master Farmer, and how are they selected? Judges consider operation and management of the farm, how the nominee got their start farming, 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. Interest and participation in farm organizations, not only in membership but in leadership, is also part of the makeup of a Master Farmer.
Note that this is a family award. Farming is a true partnership between spouses, and all members of the family contribute to the success of the operation.
Please give it some thought and send your nomination in by Oct. 1. If you have questions, email tyler.harris@FarmProgress.com. Although this year's ceremony will be held in September, winners are typically recognized at the annual Master Farmer Awards Day in March. Members of the new class are announced on our website and will be featured in the March issue of Wallaces Farmer.