Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture 2015 laureates honored

A pioneer in sunflower production and processing, a veterinarian whose innovations helped bridge the gap between animal and human health, and a family farmer who led international work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture are this year's recipients of the prestigious Siehl Prize in Agriculture.

The prize is awarded annually by CFANS. Recipients are chosen in three categories: knowledge (teaching, research and outreach); agribusiness; and production agriculture. They were honored at a ceremony in McNamara Alumni Center on the university campus on Thursday, May 21. This year's winners are:

Stanley DieschStanley Diesch (knowledge): As a professor of veterinary medicine at the U of M and large-animal/public health veterinarian, he established the Minnesota Food Animal Disease Reporting System that became the prototype for the national reporting system. His expertise in prevention and control of animal diseases is sought after by scientists around the world.

Gerhardt FickGerhardt Fick (agribusiness): He created four separate, successful businesses that relied on his plant breeding and sunflower expertise. Most sunflowers grown in the United States and Canada today are a testament to his work, as he devoted his career to developing disease-resistant, prolific cultivars that produce the high-quality sunflower seed and oils sought by food processors.

Mike YostMike Yost (production agriculture): His family farms about 5,000 acres in west-central Minnesota, and he's been a state and national leader in soybean promotional organizations as well as in his home community. He's held high-ranking positions in both the federal Farm Service Agency and the U.S. Agriculture Department's primary international agency, the Foreign Agricultural Service. In all of those roles, he's been a strong advocate for agriculture around the world.

The Siehl Prize was created in the early 1990s by a generous gift from New Ulm-area livestock breeder and businessman Eldon Siehl, a dedicated philanthropist who had a lifelong interest in agricultural systems. Siehl was concerned that people were losing touch with their agrarian roots and wanted his gift to ensure that achievements in agriculture would be recognized and celebrated. Recipients receive a $50,000 award as well as a sculpture and lapel pin designed by Minnesota artist Thomas Rose especially for the Siehl Prize.