BLOOMINGTON – Various ag awards were handed out Thursday night in Bloomington during the McLean County Chamber of Commerce 2019 Agriculture Awards Dinner.
Irvin Bane received the Outstanding Conservationist award. He grew up near Bellflower then returned to begin his farming career in 1972, spending time promoting the Soil and Water Conservation District. Bane also served on the Evergreen FS board for many years and is involved with the Lions Club and American Legion. Award presenter Mike Kelley said Bane “practices what he preaches.”
Rachel Fulton was named Emerging Leader in Agriculture. She grew up in ag and makes it a top priority. Fulton has worked for Compeer Financial for three years as a team leader and is involved with the McLean County Young Leaders as committee chair. The 25-year-old was referred to as an advocate for agriculture in the county.
Steve Cope received the Outstanding Person in Agri-business award. He has been the manager of Randolph Grain Company since 1988 and the company has grown under his management.
“Steve is a friend to every farmer and family,” said William Friedrich.
“I want to thank my board of directors for having the faith to put this company in my hands,” Cope said.
Brent Lage won the Outstanding Young Farmer Award. Lage isn’t afraid to try new farming practices, according to his peers.
“He’s always getting better at what he does,” admitted Benjamin Wurmnest.
Lage is active in his church and is the chief of his local fire department.
“Thank you for everything and I’m looking forward to keeping on going,” Lage said.
Brian Loeffler is the McLean County Farmer of the Year. The third generation farmer from Stanford grew up as a 4-H member and belonged to the Olympia High School FFA program. Loeffler graduated from the University of Illinois and served in an ag leadership program. He is on the board of directors for the Danvers elevator and continually hosts visitors on his farm.
Brian Brown received the Outstanding Service to Agriculture honor. He has served agriculture for nearly 40 years and has provided educational sessions.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to be a part of the agri-business community,” Brown reflected.
Thursday’s award ceremony was presented by the McLean County Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Council. March 20 is the date for the McLean County Agriculture Awareness Breakfast at the Chateau Hotel and Conference Center.