Oregon Aglink honored two leaders in agriculture who accepted awards for their achievements during the 12th Annual Denim & Diamonds Dinner and Auction at the Governor Hotel (now Sentinal Hotel) on Friday, November 20, 2009.
Honorees are nominated by the Oergon Aglink Board of Directors to recognize Oregon’s agricultural leaders.
Bob Terry of Fisher Farms was honored with the Agriculturist of the Year award.
When Bob Terry arrived in Oregon in the 1980s to act as a corporate workout consultant for a local nursery, he never expected to stay. His diverse business career included numerous jobs throughout the country, but his goals didn’t include farming in the Northwest. Once familiar with the agricultural industry in Oregon and the people that make this industry a community, however, Terry found that Oregon had become his home. He purchased Fisher Farms in 1996 and settled here with his family.
Since moving to this state, Terry has become an indispensable figure in Oregon agriculture. His active participation in the Oregon Association of Nurseries and Oregon Aglink has established him as a leader in Oregon agriculture, and his involvement and advocacy for the nursery industry has a national reach as well. He sits on the board of the American National Landscape Association, based in Washington D.C., and Fisher Farms is one of five nurseries involved in the U.S. Nursery Certification Program—a program created by ODA and USDA to develop and implement pest management practices.
Oregon Association of Nurseries Executive Director John Aguirre praised Terry for his leadership and commitment to the industry and the community:
“Bob has been a true model and leader in Oregon agriculture, both because of his commitment to civic leadership and his community involvement. He really sets a standard of behavior by modeling that behavior. When it comes to how he treats his employees or managing his operation from an environmental perspective, Bob is a guy who walks the talk. And he is innovative. His company is a leader in our industry in marketing, and Bob is a leader and a contributor by encouraging so many of his staff to get involved in the local community and the industry association. From that respect, it is really remarkable what Bob has done.”
Doc and Connie Hatfield of Country Natural Beef were honored with the Ag Connection of the Year award.
As founding members of Country Natural Beef, Doc and Connie Hatfield epitomize the Ag Connection Award. In 1986, as beef prices dropped on the commodity market and ranches were struggling to survive, these cattle ranchers from Brothers, Oregon, formed a cooperative of 14 ranch families from throughout Oregon’s high desert region. Their mission was to create a consumer driven beef marketing program, while taking their beef off the unpredictable commodity market and controlling the production process, from birth of calf to the consumer’s plate.
Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba spoke of the Hatfield’s successful break from tradition and their contributions to the industry:
“I think the Ag Connection Award truly encapsulates who Doc and Connie are, as people and as creators of Country Natural Beef. They quickly realized that dealing in the cattle business in the traditional way is very challenging, and I think they said to themselves, ‘There has got to be a better way.’ Their idea was to take everything that is in that place of Brothers, Oregon—the juniper and sagebrush, the harsh winters and hot summers—and market it. A lot of people wondered if it could really be done, and they just did it. It’s an amazing story and an amazing accomplishment on their part.”
Country Natural Beef has grown to include over 100 members, all dedicated to the Hatfield’s guiding vision—“to protect open spaces by preserving the rural culture and families that nurture them.” The Hatfields believe that sharing their story and their all-natural product with consumers will help create an understanding and respect between urban and rural communities that is mutually beneficial. Through Country Natural Beef, consumers have access to quality beef product in stores and restaurants, such as Burgerville, and the ranchers have profitable operation and an assurance that they can maintain their way of life.