NEW ORLEANS – The American Farm Bureau Federation will be presenting its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, to Sen. Orrin Hatch, and the Farm Bureau Founders Award to Dick Newpher on Jan. 13 during AFBF’s 100th Annual Convention.

AFBF established the Distinguished Service Award in 1928 to honor individuals who have devoted their careers to serving the national interest of American agriculture. The Farm Bureau Founders Award was established in January 2017 to recognize exemplary leadership, service or contributions to Farm Bureau by officers or employees of AFBF and state Farm Bureau organizations. 

Hatch is a longtime advocate in Congress for farmers and ranchers. His commitment to preserving public lands, cutting taxes, creating jobs and strengthening the economy has helped foster more prosperous rural communities across the country.

“Cutting taxes was of major value to people who farm who were worried they wouldn’t be able to maintain their farming,” Hatch said regarding his efforts on tax reform.

Hatch was first elected to the Senate in 1976, most recently in 2012, and served as Senate president pro tempore for four years. Early in his career, Hatch raised the sagebrush rebellion, a revolt against heavy-handed public lands policy in the West. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Hatch more recently championed the Tax Cuts and Job Act, which benefitted farm and ranch families and made sure that organizations like Farm Bureau were not hit by unrelated business income taxes. 

Before his retirement on Jan. 3, Hatch was the longest-serving sitting Republican senator in history. He sponsored more bills that have become law than any other living senator. 

“Senator Hatch loves the farmers and ranchers in the country and in our state,” said Utah Farm Bureau President Ron Gibson. “Every single time that I came to D.C. as the Farm Bureau president he would make time to see me.”

Dick Newpher, a Pennsylvania native, long served as a Farm Bureau leader at the state and national levels. Starting out at Pennsylvania Farm Bureau as a field representative for Clearfield, his home county, he went on to serve as AFBF executive director of public policy and then executive vice president and treasurer of the organization and its affiliated companies. He was known for demonstrating a supportive management style focused on the betterment of grassroots members.

During Newpher’s tenure at AFBF, the Food Quality Protection was passed and signed by the president and the organization’s efforts in Congress successfully blocked the collection of income taxes on Farm Bureau memberships. Newpher also directed a titanic change for the organization, the consolidation of offices in Washington, D.C.

“His major accomplishment at American Farm Bureau was consolidating the Chicago office with the Washington office,” Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert said of Newpher. “He brought those people that wanted to come from Chicago to Washington to make it the main location and focus for American Farm Bureau.”

Reflecting on his time with the organization, Newpher said: “I saw the ad that said the Pennsylvania Farmers Association wanted a field representative. It fit perfect. I applied for the job. I got the job. Nothing bigger or better has ever happened in my life, except maybe my marriage, that created and controlled my life like the American Farm Bureau did.”

Utah Farm Bureau nominated Hatch to receive the DSA award; Pennsylvania Farm Bureau nominated Newpher to receive the Founders Award. A national Farm Bureau committee named each of the winners.