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Distinguished Service Awards: Sen. Lugar and Dr. Womack

Newsroom / January 11, 2014

SAN ANTONIO, January 12, 2014 – The American Farm Bureau Federation presented its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, to Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Dr. Abner Womack today during the 95th AFBF Annual Convention.

AFBF established the Distinguished Service Award to honor individuals who have devoted their careers to serving agriculture.

Sen. Lugar served in the U.S. Senate for 36 years and was a member of the Agriculture Committee throughout his tenure. From 1995 to 2001, Sen. Lugar served as the committee’s chairman and from 1986 to 1995 and again from 2001 to 2002 as the committee’s ranking member.

Through Sen. Lugar’s singular efforts, the Conservation Reserve Program was incorporated into the 1985 farm bill, thus creating the basic CRP program that remains in effect today. He was also instrumental in the elimination of set-asides and planting limitations to base acres for a particular crop, which led to the concept of planting flexibility contracts.

“Throughout his Senate career, Sen. Lugar championed agricultural progress. He was a leader in support of the biofuels movement and a solid promoter of free and open trade,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “He was also in the forefront of many other efforts important to farmers, such as farm credit, food safety, agriculture research and immigration reform.”

Since leaving the Senate in 2012, Sen. Lugar has continued to advocate for many of these important issues as president of the non-profit Lugar Center.

Dr. Abner Womack, professor emeritus and research professor of agriculture economics at the University of Missouri-Columbia, has made agriculture his life’s work. His early expertise in mathematics became focused on developing a system of statistical models for U.S. crops and livestock. A pioneer in this area, Dr. Womack worked to create annual baseline analysis of U.S. and global agriculture. He was also the primary founder of the Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute, which is internationally renowned for its high-quality analysis. On a federal level, FAPRI’s work is used widely in the halls of Congress and the Agriculture Department to determine economic impacts of policy issues.

While Dr. Womack has been recognized nationally for outstanding service within agricultural economics, he has remained focused on working directly with farmers and ranchers. He is viewed as an icon in his home state of Missouri for spending countless hours and many driving miles to share his research with farmers and listen to what is on their minds.

“Dr. Womack embodies a unique and giving spirit. He yearns not to make decisions, but to provide others with the tools to do so,” said Stallman. “He has experienced agriculture from many sides, including as a farmer, USDA employee, consultant to agribusiness and farming organizations and an advisor to college students. He has made a true difference in the agriculture industry.”

The Indiana Farm Bureau nominated Sen. Lugar to receive the DSA award, while the Missouri Farm Bureau nominated Dr. Womack. A national Farm Bureau committee named them both as winners.

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