The highest honor awarded by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Distinguished Service Award, was recently presented to Richard McGuire of New York and Eligio "Kika" de la Garza of Texas.

The award was presented to former New York Farm Bureau President Richard McGuire for the leadership he provided beginning when he joined the NYFB in 1956. McGuire also served as New York state's Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets from 1988-1995 after his Farm Bureau career.

Because of the differences between urban and agricultural areas, McGuire was at the forefront of right-to-farm issues and farmer land stewardship issues. He served on the AFBF board of directors and executive committee in the 1970s and early '80s.

The other Distinguished Service Award went to a person known throughout the world by his nickname, "Kika." Serving 16 terms in Congress, while representing an agriculturally diverse area of southern Texas, de la Garza served with seven presidents before retiring in 1997.

For 14 years de la Garza presided as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee where he left his mark by overseeing the development and enactment of three farm bills.

Among his accomplishments, said Stallman, de la Garza spearheaded federal crop insurance reform, an overhaul of the agricultural lending system, rural economic development programs, and major disaster assistance for farmers and ranchers.

AFBF's Distinguished Service Award is presented to individuals who have devoted their entire careers to serving farming and ranching, and who continue to display a concern for the agricultural industry.

Source: AgPRonline