Five Franklin County farmers will be honored next month at the Mid-Columbia 2012 Ag Hall of Fame gala in Pasco.
The awards will be presented to couples and individuals who have been outstanding leaders for agribusiness in Franklin County.
Joining past inductees into the Ag Hall of Fame are:
w Benjamin and Alma Grant, early settlers in Block 1 of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project -- receiving the Mid-Columbia Ag Hall of Fame Pioneer Award. They have a custom harvesting business.
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-- Lana Cline, who farms in the Columbia Basin and volunteered in 4-H leadership and other mentoring roles -- receiving the Agriculture Mentor Leadership Award.
-- Jared Balcom, a potato farmer and president of Balcom and Moe -- receiving the Agribusiness Man of the Year title.
-- Richard Cummins, president of Columbia Basin College who has fostered agriculture programs at the college -- receiving the Visionary Award.
Each individual will be honored for the contributions they have made for the future of agriculture.
The gala, which includes dinner featuring local produce and beverages from the Preston Premium Wines of Pasco, will be 6 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Pasco Red Lion Inn. Dan Newhouse, state director of agriculture, will be guest speaker.
Tickets are $65 each, or $480 for a table of eight, and may be purchased through the Pasco Chamber of Commerce at 547-9755 or at 2525 N. 20th Ave., Pasco. The chamber's website is pascorealag.com.
The chamber and the Port of Pasco are sponsors of the Ag Hall of Fame event.
The evening program will include music by the Pasco High Tenth Avenue Singers and video entertainment by Dan Burns of 3-D Productions.
The Grants came to the Columbia Basin in 1951 already familiar with Masey-Ferguson combines. Benjamin Grant quickly began a custom harvesting business, and was so adept at reinventing machinery that his inventions helped save may farmers from losing their damaged crops.
The Grants also were community minded with time and money, installing lights on a Basin City baseball field, donating services to harvest crops on church property and providing a scholarship to their alma mater, Oklahoma State University.
Cline of Basin City not only started and helped 4-H clubs in Basin City, Connell and Mesa, she trained youths in agricultural skills and revived the annual 4-H camping program at Camp Wooten. She also had time to help found both the Columbia Basin Junior Livestock Show and the 4-H Sage and stirrups Horse Club.
Balcom grew up on his parents' farm, but went to college intending to have a career in biology. But his future was to be in agribusiness, as he became CEO at Balcom and Moe before assuming the top position five years ago. He has had leadership positions on the U.S. Potato Board, the Potato Leadership Institute and the Washington Onion and Potato Association.
With Balcom at the helm of a four-generation family business, he has modernized production to reduce costs, while improving quality and efficiencies in both the fields and the warehouses.
Recognizing the vital role of agriculture in the Mid-Columbia, Cummins reinstituted the agriculture programs that had been discontinued at Columbia Basin College in 2004. His vision involved enlisting key leaders of agriculture and agribusiness, from growers, processors, equipment and chemical dealers and bankers. Cummins teamed with Washington State University Tri-Cities and high school agriculture teachers to develop a degree-focused agriculture curriculum that was rolled out to students in 2007.
Cummins also brought back the college's research farm and encouraged efforts to develop biofuel crops and feedstocks, while remaining involved in many other community service organizations.