BLOOMINGTON – The annual Agriculture Awareness Breakfast hosted by the McLean County Chamber of Commerce is planned for Wednesday (March 20) at the Chateau Hotel and Conference Center.
The Central Illinois Farm Network's very own Kent Casson will serve as emcee and keynote speaker will be John Phipps, former host of U.S. Farm Report. Phipps is no stranger to the ag community in Illinois and McLean County. John was born in 1948 and raised on a six-generation farm in east-central Illinois. He graduated with honors from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 1970 with a bachelor's in chemical engineering and a minor in economics.
The next five years were spent as a nuclear engineering officer aboard the USS Seahorse, a fast-attack submarine home-ported in Charleston, S.C. During this time, he married Jan Sonneveldt from Grand Rapids, Mich. They have two sons: Aaron, a mining engineer who returned to the farm in 2008; and Jack, a project director for US Cellular in Chicago.
John returned to his family's 600-acre farm in 1975. The farm now comprises 2,140 acres in Edgar County. At various times, he has sold computers and software to farmers, worked in a mortgage banking operation as a closing officer, and taught at the Danville Area Community College.
John writes humor and commentary, appearing regularly in Farm Journal and Top Producer magazines as a contributing editor. His work has also been published in Farm & Country in Canada, Produktion in Denmark and The American Enterprise. In 1995, 1996, 1997, 2002 and 2004 his works were selected for Best Humor; in 1995, 2000 and 2003, Best Regular Column; and in 2003, Best Editorial Opinion by the American Agricultural Editors Association.
In 2004, he was named Writer of the Year. He also appeared regularly on Weekend Marketplace as a commentator. In 2005, he assumed the position of host of U.S. Farm Report, the nation’s longest-running TV show, stepping down from the position in 2014 to spend more time on the farm. Also in 2005, he began "Incoming," a unique weblog for those who farm and those who like farms.
U.S. Farm Report airs weekly on Saturday and/or Sunday, and is hosted by Tyne Morgan, with exclusive on-farm commentary from John.
The Wednesday breakfast in Bloomington is free to attend. The meal starts at 6:30 a.m. with the presentation and keynote around 7.