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Bill and Janet Butler have been selected for induction into the Ohio Agricultural Council Hall of Fame

The Ohio Agricultural Council will honor 2024 honorees who have made significant contributions to the advancement of Ohio's agricultural community. The 2024 OAC Hall of Fame ceremony will celebrate the achievements of the late David W. Brandt of Carroll, Bill and Janet Butler of Hillsboro, Fred Finney of Wooster and the late Raymond A. Miller of Hilliard. Each has uniquely impacted Ohio agriculture through innovation, education and leadership.

“It is with great honor and respect that we celebrate the lasting legacy of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees,” said Tadd Nicholson, president of the Ohio Agricultural Council and executive director of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. “Her visionary leadership and tireless commitment have advanced our agricultural industry and made significant contributions at both the local and national levels.”

The ceremony, celebrating its 58th anniversary, is expected to draw more than 600 attendees, including community leaders, industry professionals and family members, who will gather to honor the new additions' lifelong commitment and service to Ohio's agricultural sector. With this induction, the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame proudly honors a total of 253 individuals since its inception.

William (Bill) and Janet Butler of Hillsboro were key figures in transforming livestock marketing and agricultural finance in southern Ohio through their leadership of Union Stockyards. Since Bill's move to Hillsboro in 1969 and subsequent ownership, the couple has developed the facility into a major agricultural center, hosting over 70 auctions annually and serving farmers in several states. Their efforts have significantly increased the accessibility and transparency of the livestock market and fostered strong connections within the agricultural community.

The Butlers' commitment goes beyond business operations. They have been instrumental in educational initiatives and collaborated with OSU Extension and local veterinarians to conduct seminars and workshops that disseminate important information about animal health, nutrition and market dynamics.

Bill's role as director of Merchants National Bank since 1983 has also been instrumental in establishing the bank as a major agricultural lender in the region, using his deep understanding of agricultural needs to provide financial support to farmers in southwest Ohio.

Recognized for their service and leadership, Bill and Janet received numerous awards, including the Ohio Cattlemen's Top Hand Award and the Friend of 4-H Award, a testament to their lifelong commitment to agriculture and community service. Together, they not only promoted economic growth in their industry, but were also strong advocates for agricultural education and community development, making them exemplary candidates for the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame.

The late David W. Brandt of Carroll, a pioneer of no-till farming and soil health, worked to transform agricultural practices with his innovative approach and unwavering commitment. Brandt began his career at Dogwood Lane Farms in 1970 and quickly adopted the no-till method, planting corn directly into the turf. This early initiative marked the beginning of his lifelong commitment to sustainable agriculture.

As a consultant for Chevron Chemical and later Monsanto, Brandt educated farmers across the country on the benefits of no-till farming. In 1987, he founded the Brandt Family Farm, which became a center for soil conservation and sustainable farming techniques. His farm served as a key site for demonstrating the benefits of soil conservation in collaboration with Ohio State University Extension. Brandt led numerous field days and conferences aimed at improving soil health and significantly improving water quality and soil integrity, encouraging farmers to adopt sustainable practices.

Brandt's influence earned him numerous state and national awards, including the Ohio Conservation Farmer Award and No-Till Farmer Magazine's No-Till Innovator Award. His leadership roles in organizations such as the Ohio No-till Council promoted soil conservation efforts. David W. Brandt's legacy continues to influence sustainable agricultural practices throughout the United States, ensuring the environmental and economic sustainability of agriculture for future generations.

Fred Finney of Wooster, a respected leader in Ohio's agricultural community, made profound contributions to the state's fruit and vegetable industry. After serving in the U.S. Army, Finney began his career with the Davis Melrose Company, which later owned Moreland Fruit Farm. In 1985, he purchased the farm and transformed it into a thriving 125-acre operation, growing a diverse range of fruit and vegetable crops, significantly improving local food markets and supply chains.

Throughout his career, Finney has been instrumental in creating new market opportunities for farmers, particularly through his involvement in the establishment of the Mt. Hope Farmers Produce Auction and the Mid-Ohio Growers Meeting. These initiatives have not only supported local farmers but also promoted community and economic development. His efforts extended to national influence, particularly in the area of ​​food safety, where he played a critical role in developing compliance training for the Food Safety Modernization Act and ensuring that small and Amish farmers were not overlooked.

Finney's leadership includes several prestigious positions, including president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and on the board of directors of Nationwide Insurance. His work has earned him numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Fred Finney's commitment to improving agricultural practices and supporting his community has left an indelible mark on Ohio's agricultural landscape and made him a respected figure in the industry.

The late Dr. Raymond A. Miller of Hilliard, a distinguished educator and leader in The Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, has had a profound impact on the agricultural community through his nearly four-decade tenure at the institution. As associate dean and professor, Miller dedicated his career to fostering the growth and development of thousands of students, many of whom have become influential leaders throughout the agricultural sector.

Throughout his career, Miller played a pivotal role in advising, mentoring and guiding students, ensuring they received the support and resources necessary to succeed both academically and professionally. His role extended beyond the classroom to significant initiatives such as the founding of the Alpha Zeta Partners Leadership program, which was critical to developing well-rounded agricultural leaders. His commitment to student success was evident in his advising of various student-focused organizations, including the Ag College Chorale, the College Council, and the Ohio Staters Philanthropic Club.

Miller's commitment to Ohio agriculture went hand in hand with his service to the community. His efforts in alumni relations and development set the standard for engagement and helped ensure graduates remained connected and active within the agricultural community. The establishment of scholarship programs and his active participation in university events underscored his commitment to education and community service. His legacy continues to influence agricultural education and community development in Ohio and beyond, making him an outstanding individual deserving of recognition in the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame.

For more information or to sponsor to honor the new additions and celebrate Ohio agriculture, contact the Ohio Agricultural Council at (614) 794-8970 or email [email protected].

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Anna Harden

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