Farming in 2019 will be remembered for its many weather challenges from planting all the way to harvest, but for another select group the year will be remembered as the point when they made it to Master Farmer status. Ronnie and Sarah Mohr, Richard Law from Hamilton County, David Lee of Washington County, Roger and Mary Beth Wenning, and honorary Master Farmer Mark Sigler with Indiana Farm Bureau were all honored in late June by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue College of Agriculture.
The 2019 class has many years of experience in farming, but by June they knew they were witnessing historic challenges.
“This is all new to me,” said Ronnie Mohr of Hancock County. “What was it 1981? But we got in and got it planted, and then we had a lot of heat units during the summer and late fall and we got a decent crop. This one here, just coming up today it’s heartbreaking to see it.”
Roger Wenning of Decatur County said he has prepared himself to weather a storm like 2019 after also surviving four decades ago.
“I’m just the exact wrong age,” he told HAT. “I graduated in 1976 and started to buy farms there in ’80, and you know that was not the time. So, we went through some pretty hard times there through the ‘80’s.”
Mark Sigler also knows the struggles farmers faced.
“It is a tough year and if you think about the conditions across the state, I’ve been to go around the state. You see everything and a lot of crops that are struggling. In fact, on our farm they were replanting soybeans today and today is the 27th of June. That’s like double crop beans, so this is a year most people say I’ve never seen one quite like it.”
But the new master farmers will always have that special memory of 2019, something Sigler and Mohr never saw coming.
Mohr also said it was surprising, “even for someone to nominate me. Actually a landlord nominated me, filled out all the paperwork and everything.”
Wenning expressed feelings we hear every year from at least someone, if not every member of the new class.
“I still just can’t quite take it all in yet,” he said. “It’s kind of an amazing feeling to be thought of that way, and I just look at the list and I’ve been reading this list for years and years. I don’t know how I fit in to it though.”
The master farmer banquet was held at Huntington University.