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University of Minnesota announces 2012 Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture laureates

March 7, 2012

A longtime state agriculture commissioner, a University of Minnesota economist who works to improve agricultural productivity around the world and a wheat farmer with a long record of community service are this year’s recipients of the prestigious Siehl Prize in Agriculture.

The prize is awarded annually by the university’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. Recipients are chosen in three categories: knowledge (teaching, research and outreach); production agriculture and agribusiness. This year’s winners are:

Bruce Hamnes (production agriculture): Since taking over his family’s Stephen, Minn., farm in the early 1960s, he has served on agricultural lobbying and advisory groups at the local, state, national and international levels. As a small-grains producer, he helped lead research initiatives of the Minnesota Wheat Council and Wheat Growers and later worked with national organizations to expand international wheat markets. He also played an important role in developing leadership programs through the Northwest Minnesota Foundation.

Gene Hugoson (agribusiness):
As Minnesota’s agriculture commissioner for 15 years—in three different administrations—his priorities were expanding markets for agricultural products and enhancing the protection of the state’s food supply. The southern Minnesota farmer also modernized the agriculture department and was elected by his fellow state ag commissioners to lead their national association.
Philip Pardey (knowledge): The University of Minnesota professor of applied economics uses science and technology to help alleviate hunger, through his strategic analyses for development foundations, agribusiness companies, governmental and non-governmental agencies. The native of Australia is co-founder of Harvest Choice, a Gates Foundation-funded initiative that gathers and analyzes agricultural productivity data to help address food needs in developing nations.

The recipients were announced today as part of the celebration of National Ag Week. They will be honored at a ceremony on May 24 on the university campus.

The Siehl Prize was created in the early 1990s by a generous gift from New Ulm-area livestock breeder and businessman Eldon Siehl, a dedicated philanthropist who had a lifelong interest in agricultural systems. Siehl was concerned that people were losing touch with their agrarian roots and wanted his gift to ensure that achievements in agriculture would be recognized and celebrated.  Recipients receive a $50,000 award as well as a sculpture and lapel pin designed by Minnesota artist Thomas Rose especially for the Siehl Prize.

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