Three big names in local agriculture are now members of the Rice County Agriculture Hall of Fame.

During the 12th annual Best of the Best Agriculture Awards at the Rice County Fair Wednesday, the county honored the legacies and current work of leaders past and present.

This year’s Hall of Fame inductees were Albert Batchelder, Daniel Koester and Bernard Hughes.

Presenters Claire LaCanne and Richard Huston spoke of Batchelder’s commitment to farm families. As a founding partner of the Faribault Veterinary Clinic, Batchelder spend more than 50 years caring for area livestock and building relationships with farmers, often acting as both a friend and a veterinarian.

“He leaves behind a legacy of animal care in Faribault that spans generations,” said LaCanne.

“The man worked harder than any man I’ve ever known. He was dedicated 365 days a year,” said Huston, a veterinarian who worked alongside Batchelder.

Presenter Greg Langer praised inductee Bernard Hughes for his years of promoting agricultural business as part of a stable community. The founder of Hughes Equipment, Hughes was a member of a long list of local agriculture, veterans and other organizations, including the Northfield VFW, Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Northfield Lions Club. He received the Joseph Lee Heywood Distinguished Service Award in 1985.

“People that knew him knew that he was overly generous with his time,” said Langer.

Daniel Koester, a Dennison-based Hereford breeder, earned his Hall of Fame spot for his half-century of history the breed and various leadership roles in county 4-H. Ron Sommers, who grew up with Koester, described him as an outgoing person and a “leader on campus” during his time at the University of Minnesota. Koester showed cattle at the Minnesota State Fair for decades and received the Golden Hereford Breeder Medallion. In 1988, he was recognized as the Rice County Outstanding 4-H Adult Leader and dedicated much of his time to promoting and teaching local 4-H youth.

“Dan was dedicated to the community and to public service, as well as to the husbandry of our agricultural resources,” said Sommers.

Program hosts Jerry Groskruetz, of KDHL Radio, and Art Madsen, chair of the Faribault Chamber’s Agribusiness Committee, also presented awards to others active on the local agriculture scene.

Jeff and Lisa LaCanne (and family) were named the Farm Family of the Year. Jeff LaCanne helped establish a farm rescue training program and secure funding for a rescue tube to help people trapped in grain bins — a lifesaving tool used during a successful rescue last summer.

“It’s great to be in the farming community. It’s a great way to raise a family,” said LaCanne.

John and Debbie Brecker were named Rice County Outstanding Conservationists. RKB Dairy, owned by Randy and Kathy Bauer, earned recognition for Minnesota Dairy Herds with Superior Cow Care. Kevin Estrem was named this year’s Friend of the Rice County Fair. Randy and Lori Stangler received the Forestry Stewardship award for their work restoring the trees and wetlands on their property.

“It’s an honor to be included in such a distinguished group of people. It’s not about the money, it’s about the love you put in and the love you get out,” said Randy Stangler.

Three area farms also achieved Century Farm status in 2019: Joyce Cordes, of Faribault, the Derscheid Farm, owned by David and Phyllis Derscheid of Kenyon, and the Lurken Family Farm, owned by Deanna and Steve Lurken of Kenyon.

Cordes, who has lived on her farm for 70 years, said longevity and commitment are the secrets to reaching the Century Farm designation.

“They brought me here as a baby, and I never left,” she joked.

Reach Reporter Anne Kopas at 507-333-3148. Follow her on Twitter @NFNanne.

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