Indiana Farm Bureau paid tribute to two of the most effective and influential leaders in agriculture today as they retire from leadership positions. At the IFB state convention in Indianapolis on Friday, Lt. Governor Becky Skillman and Senator Richard Lugar were honored with the President’s Award for service to agriculture. Skillman is Indiana’s outgoing Secretary of Agriculture. She is someone IFB president Don Villwock said has been an extraordinary force for Indiana agriculture over the past 8 years, “A very engaging lady who bring all the players to the table and someone who has a genuine passion for rural Indiana.” Farm Bureau 2nd Vice President Isabella Chism said Skillman has been a role model for woman in agriculture. “I think that is the thing that I admire about her the most, she does what she says she is going to do,” Chism stated. “She is a real person who will stand up for what she believes.”
Also honored at the awards luncheon was Richard Lugar who is ending his long and distinguished career in the US Senate. Farm Bureau Vice President Randy Kron said Lugar has helped shape US farm policy over the past 3 decades more than any other member of Congress, “He was willing to take on the tough issues and worked very closely with Farm Bureau and all of agriculture.”
Both Skillman and Lugar leave a lasting legacy in agriculture. Skillman was the driving force that established the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. Lugar, as chairman of the Senate Ag Committee, crafted a major change in US farm policy in the 1985 Farm Bill which moved US farmers from a supply management approach to a market oriented approach known as Freedom to Farm. Villwock, who has worked closely with both, was quite emotional in his presentation; and the audience of several thousand farmers and farm leaders gave both a thundering standing ovation.