Pa. farmer earns American Farm Bureau Federation’s highest honor

SAN ANTONIO — The American Farm Bureau Federation presented its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, to Keith Eckel from Pennsylvania and former Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill.

The award was announced during the 90th American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting.

Leader for agriculture

Eckel, who has been a farmer and leader for agriculture for 40 years, served as a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation board of directors and on various executive, organization, finance and study committees.

“Farm Bureau has been my life,” Eckel said. “There is no award that I appreciate receiving more than the Distinguished Service Award from AFBF.”

Eckel owns a 1,400 acre vegetable and grain farm in Clarks Summit, Lackawanna County.

He was appointed by the U.S. secretary of agriculture to serve on the nation’s Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade in Fruits and Vegetables.

He was also appointed as a charter member of the National Dairy Board and was later appointed to serve on the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act Advisory Committee.

In 2008, President Bush appointed Eckel to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development. Also in 2008, he was elected chairman of the Nationwide Mutual board of directors.

Eckel also serves as chairman of Allied Group, Inc., CalFarm Insurance Co. and Gardmore Asset Management Co.

Willing to speak out

Eckel was the focus of major news coverage in March 2008 when he announced he would no longer grow fresh market tomatoes, after determining he would not have an adequate seasonal labor force to harvest his crop.

The news conference drew national attention to the ongoing problems associated with the immigration reform/farm labor issue and the failure of Congress to take action on the issue.

Rep. Ray LaHood. Rep. Ray LaHood’s 31-year career of public service has focused on agricultural issues.

He has served as a member of the House of Representatives from the 18th district of Illinois and has been a tireless and effective advocate for agriculture.

His voting record on American Farm Bureau Federation issues earned him a “Friend of Farm Bureau” designation for six consecutive sessions of Congress.

American Farm Bureau Federation established the Distinguished Service Award to honor individuals who have devoted their careers to serving farming and ranching.

Rep. Ray LaHood

Rep. Ray LaHood’s 31-year career of public service has focused on agricultural issues.

He has served as a member of the House of Representatives from the 18th district of Illinois and has been a tireless and effective advocate for agriculture.

His voting record on American Farm Bureau Federation issues earned him a “Friend of Farm Bureau” designation for six consecutive sessions of Congress.

American Farm Bureau Federation established the Distinguished Service Award to honor individuals who have devoted their careers to serving farming and ranching.

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