The Master Farmer Award is something that Greg Smoker of LaPorte County has aspired for since he was ten years old. His father, James, was named Master Farmer in 1996, and his grandfather Dwight received the same award in 1972. Now, Greg joins them both as a third-generation Master Farmer award winner.
“I never would’ve dreamt it. I can only thank God and [my wife] Deb. If it wasn’t for Deb, I wouldn’t amount to anything,” said Greg as he was fighting back tears after receiving the Master Farmer Award that he shares with his wife.
Both Greg and Deb were among those honored on Tuesday during the Master Farmer awards program at Beck’s Hybrids in Atlanta, Indiana, during the Purdue Farm Management Tour. The event was presented by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture.
“He deserves it. I’d say he’s one of the best cattle feeders in the state – possibly the nation,” said Deb Smoker. They both farm cattle and crops near Wanatah in northwestern Indiana.
Greg says the transition to the next generation of younger farmers will be a critical time for the ag industry.
“It’s all about change,” said Greg. “It’s all about where this next generation is going to take it. [My] generation [is] about past. It’s the next generation to decide what [farming] is going to be.”
Deb says their son continues to adapt to the changes in farming.
“Our son Jacob is back at the farm and into technology. His drone and information that he’s learned at Purdue, he has implemented all those things into doing wonderful things with the crops,” said Deb.
Greg says as technology has become more advanced, fewer young people today are deciding to farm and take over the business operation from their parents and grandparents – like he had done when he decided to farm like his father and grandfather.
“The biggest change I’ve seen [over my career] is we went from pitchforks to skid loaders,” said Greg. “Back then, with pitchforks, you had young kids and you could teach then a work ethic, you teach them responsibility, teach them love of animals and [a] love of work. When we went to skid loaders, everything became mechanized, whether it was grain or livestock. [What] we’re missing in our community is young people learning that and they’re not available anymore.”
You’ll read and hear more from each of the Master Farmer Award winners over the next several weeks on Hoosier Ag Today and HoosierAgToday.com.
The full list of 2022 Master Farmer Award Winners honored on Tuesday:
- Rob and Karen Dove, Elnora
- David Hardin, Avon
- Tom and Carol Nugent, Elnora
- Mark and Sheryl Seib, Poseyville
- Greg and Deb Smoker, Wanatah
Two Honorary Master Farmers were also inducted this year:
- Bob Cherry, Greenfield
- Gary Steinhardt, West Lafayette
Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s news story on LaPorte County’s Greg and Deb Smoker and how they represent a third generation of “Master Farmer” award winners.