The Missouri Master Farmer Award Program is proud to announce its 2009-10 class of winners. The Missouri Master Farmers are Bill Cook, Garden City; Richard Oswald, Langdon; Brent Sandidge, Marshall; and Denis Turner, Hartville.
Coordinators of the award program are Missouri Ruralist magazine and University of Missouri Extension. Gold sponsor FCS Financial funds the awards and educational program.
The Master Farmer Award recognizes farmers who work hard every day for better, more efficient methods of raising crops and livestock. Nominations are open to all Missourians involved in production agriculture. The judging committee selects the best managers with innovative ideas, business skills, financial recordkeeping, soil and water conservation practices, agricultural leadership, and community service.
"This program recognizes farmers who have not only been successful in farming, but who are also assets to their communities and to agriculture," says Ron Plain, MU Extension agricultural economist. "This is not meant to be a lifetime achievement award, but to recognize currently active farmers."
An awards banquet for the winners will be held Saturday evening, Feb. 6 at the 2010 Missouri Young Farmers/Young Farm Wives Convention. Each Master Farmer will receive a $1,000 cash prize and an award plaque. Also planned is an educational roundtable discussion with representatives from MYF-YFW and the audience. The roundtable is Sunday morning, Feb. 7. All events are at Lodge of the Four Seasons, Lake Ozark.
The Master Farmer Award is the nation's longest running agriculture award program. States with established award programs include Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia, and now Missouri.
Check out the January 2010 issue of Missouri Ruralist for in-depth feature articles on each Missouri Master Farmer.
Bill Cook, Garden City, developed a passion for agriculture while working on his grandparent's Cass County farm as a young man. He started farming full time in 1966, and then ventured into agribusiness. He founded NeCo Seed Farms Inc. and Grower IP Products and serves as CEO of Missouri Food and Fiber Inc., an identity-preserved soybean cooperative. Cook believes growth in production agriculture will be dependent on adapting new technology, focusing on improved management, and capturing the true value of our ag products. The farm's corn and soybean operation is still managed by Bill and his wife, Emily. The agribusiness ventures are now under the ownership and direction of their children.
Richard Oswald, Langdon, is proud to be a fifth-generation farmer in Atchison County. After having a traditional diversified farm with beef cattle, hogs, crops and hay, he now focuses on raising specialty corn and seed soybeans. He has quickly adopted new technology such as precision application of fertilizer with fertility grid maps, GPS guided autosteer for planter and sprayer guidance, and GPS yield maps to make his crop operation more efficient. Oswald is active in state and national agricultural organizations. He also writes a weekly column called "View from the Cab," published on DTN, and contributes blogs on Daily Yonder.
Brent Sandidge, Marshall, returned to his family's Ham Hill Farms in Saline County after college graduation in 1978. He worked his way up to manager of the farms, which include a large farrow-to-finish swine operation, in 1985. He is striving to maintain sow herd size, while continuing to wean more pigs per sow. Over the last five years, he has increased the farm's grain crop operation and expanded and modernized their feed mill to handle extra swine feed production. Environmental stewardship is a top priority for Sandidge. Ham Hill Farms is environmentally certified by the National Pork Board.
Denis Turner, Hartville, manages Turner's Heifer Haven, a replacement heifer contract grower business for the dairy industry. Over the past five years, he has improved forage species in his intensive grazing paddock system on his Wright County farm. He has added the latest heat synchronization methods and learned to ultrasound heifers for pregnancy confirmation. A respected livestock nutritionist and consultant, Turner serves as president of Turner's Special Supply, a vitamin and mineral pre-mix blender business founded and owned by his parents, Bill and Kathryn Turner.