This year's recipients of the Siehl Prize in Agriculture include an innovative farmer who is known worldwide for his conservation practices, a steadfast leader in the agribusiness finance industry, and a longtime voice of agriculture in southwestern Minnesota. Recipients are chosen for three categories: knowledge (teaching, research and outreach), production agriculture, and agribusiness.
Each winner (or "laureate") receives a monetary award of $50,000 and a beautiful granite and glass sculpture. The Siehl Prize is named in honor of philanthropist Eldon Siehl, a successful Minnesota businessman who wanted to educate the general public about where their food came from and to provide recognition for the dedicated people who make it their life's work.
This year's winners are:
Wallace "Wally" Nelson (knowledge): Mr. Nelson was the original superintendent at what is now the Southwest Minnesota Research and Outreach Center near Lamberton was a tireless advocate for putting agricultural research to work for farmers. He led the research center for nearly 40 years, contributing to important breakthroughs in corn management, hail damage, soils and drainage.
James "Tony" Thompson (production agriculture): Mr. Thompson is a Windom, Minn. farmer who manages his family's nearly 5,000 acres to produce bountiful, profitable crops while carefully conserving the farm's soil and water. He's opened his home and farm to hundreds of researchers and scientists who want to learn more about agro-ecology.
Paul DeBriyn (agribusiness): Mr. DeBriyn is the president and CEO of AgStar Financial Services. He took over a struggling agricultural lender in the 1980s and built it into an industry leader. In addition to his business success, DeBriyn has been a leader in advocating for agriculture, in developing leadership and scholarship programs, and in helping rural economies thrive.
The recipients were announced today as part of the celebration of National Ag Week. They will be honored at a ceremony on May 26 on the University campus.